Israel Blows Two-Goal Lead Against Portugal

Israel relinquishes lead

Israel blew a two-goal advantage and had to be content with a 3-3 draw with Portugal in a pulsating World Cup qualifier in Tel Aviv on Friday.

The hosts looked to be sitting pretty with a 3-1 lead with 20 minutes to go but the Seleccao stormed back to salvage a precious point at the Ramat Gan Winter Stadium.

Both teams are now level on eight points in Group F, four behind Russia after today’s result although the leaders have a game in hand.

Portugal sprinted out of the starting blocks when Bruno Alves was left unmarked and powered a header past goalkeeper Dudu Aouate to give the visitors the lead just two minutes into the contest.

However, Israel did not panic and its perseverance paid dividends in the 20th minute when Mallorca forward Tomer Hemed levelled matters with a fine strike that found the bottom corner.

The Israeli faithful were given more reasons to cheer when Eden Ben Basat gave the home side the lead, as he beat the offside trap and fired past Rui Patricio five minutes before the half-time interval.

Things soon went from bad to worse for Cristiano Ronaldo and company when Nuli Gershon headed into an open net after Patricio flapped at the incoming corner in the 70th minute.

Portugal was 3-1 down and in serious trouble but the visitors kept their nerve and replied quickly with Helder Postiga cutting the deficit to one just two minutes later.

That set up a grandstand finish in Tel Aviv with the hosts hosts hanging on for dear life in the last 15 minutes of the scintillating encounter.

Fabio Coentrao then broke Israeli hearts when Tal Ben Haim’s clearance hit the Real Madrid full-back and spun into the net after a mad scramble in the 18-yard box.

Israel and Portugal are four points behind Russia who can extend its lead at the top of Group F with a win on Saturday.