Israel’s national soccer team notched a key victory Wednesday night against Moldova in a World Cup qualifier held in Chisinau, coming from behind to win 4-1.
Struggling in the first half of the game, the blue and whites fell behind after 29 minutes to a goal by Moldova’s Catalin Carp, less than five minutes after the hosts had another goal disallowed.
Playing their third game in a week with a largely unchanged lineup, Austrian coach Willi Ruttensteiner’s Israeli side appeared both tired and out of sync as they pushed back against a surprising onslaught from the 177th-ranked soccer team in the world.
But leveling the scorecard, Eran Zahavi scraped in an equalizer moments before the halftime whistle, giving the visitors a vital boost and making him the national team’s 2nd-highest goalscorer of all time with 25 goals to his name.
When Israel came out on the pitch for the 2nd half, a renewed grit was aided by a red card given to Moldova’s Ion Nicolaescu for pushing Israel’s Loai Taha, taking the hosts down to 10 men and forcing them into a new formation.
Israel then punished Moldova, scoring three consecutive goals in just nine minutes, with Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Manor Solomon, Hoffenheim striker Mu’nas Dabbur and captain Bibras Natcho of Partizan all making the scoresheet.
The win takes Israel to third place in Group F after the first week of the campaign, with Denmark sitting pretty at the top after three wins, including against Israel last week, followed by Scotland, who drew against the blue and whites earlier this week.
The group winner will automatically qualify for the 2022 Qatar World Cup while the group runner-up enters a playoff round next year.