The Israeli team opened its games tonight in the qualifiers for the European Championship 2022, when it was hosted in Porto against the strong Portuguese team, in the fourth house, and suffered a loss – 31:22 (14:12). The team will return from Portugal without a win, but with hope. She was strong in the picture for more than 40 minutes and even led during the first and second half, but in the end – the fatigue did its thing in the closing stages and Portugal increased the advantage to a record in the closing seconds.
The next game of the Israeli team is scheduled to be in Iceland, and now they are waiting for an announcement about a new date after it has been postponed (in rounds 3-4, the Israeli team will host and host Lithuania in March). The Israeli team was drawn in a difficult home, with teams from the world top (Iceland and Portugal), with the goal of getting a score and reaching the third place (from which four teams from eight houses will qualify for the European Championship, in addition to the 16 teams that finish 1-2, host Hungary and Slovakia). And European Champion and her runners-up Spain and Croatia).
The Israeli team arrived after quite a few difficulties in preparation, a league that is not played for about eight months during the Corona period (and will only be renewed on the 13th of the month), when the squad of Oleg Botenko and Assaf Levy included 8 local players (who only started training last week), and 8 legionnaires. Despite this, the heroic opening game of the team players: Yoav Lambroso gave Israel the first advantage, and despite a numerical disadvantage (two minutes away from Lior Gorman) Daniel Shekalim made it 1: 2. Daniel Musindi and Adir Cohen raised to 1: 4. Shekelim added another goal on the way to 2: 5, with Moshiko Elimelech looking excellent in the goal. The Portuguese recovered, and Diego Brankinio equalized in the 11th minute to 5: 5. Adir Cohen, in his second goal, returned the advantage to Israel. Victor Ituriza equalized, but the team continued to show character and Gil Pomeranz and Snir Nazia raised to 6: 8 (14 ′).
Next, Pomeranz was the hot man and set a 12:12 penalty. A pair of goals by Leonel Fernandez, compared to the errors of Ram Turknitz – set the half time score 12:14 for Portugal – when in the last minutes the team was in a numerical deficit following the dismissal of Eden Ginger. Pomeranz scored a pair of shots from 7 meters at the start of the second half, and Adir Cohen equalized for 15:15 (33 ′). Elimelech’s stop, and another excellent move by Musindi (squeeze Pendel) – returned the advantage to Israel – 15:16, from Pomeranz’s seventh goal. Portala equalized from the corner, and Borges returned the advantage to Portugal. Lambruso squeezed a penalty, and Pomeranz continued to be accurate from 7 yards and equalized for 17:17 (38 ′). Goals by Silva and Brancino, when Israel was numerically short (Lambruso was sent off) raised Portugal to 17:19. Portella put Portugal ahead for the first time with a 3-goal lead – 18:21 (43 ′). Elimelech provided an important stop, but the team did not take advantage of the situations to shrink and Botenko took a timeout. Fabio Maglehars increased Portugal’s lead to 4 goals.
Loss of a ball and a foul by Adir Cohen, and Maglarash scored a second consecutive goal and set 18:23. Lambruso stopped the run, but two offenses by Ginger (including a two-minute suspension) led Portugal to the 7-meter line – Tom Shem Tov provided a big stop on a penalty for Aria. Controversial decisions by the judges gave Portugal more opportunities. Ariya and Ituriza set up 19:25 (51 ′). Fatigue did its thing, and the team lost balls. Adir Cohen with an assist for Venice, who reduced to 25:20 (53 ′). Borges again raised to 6. Ituriza was sent off and finished the game. Miguel Martins set up a 7-goal lead. Musindi squeezed a third penalty, and Pomeranz reached 7 of 7 from the 7-yard line (10 goals) – 27:21. Botenko provided opportunities for Sahar Shachak and Daniel Sarfati, and as mentioned also for a good name, but the Portuguese goalkeeper Gaspar continued to excel. Jonathan Dayan scored a beautiful goal in the round and squeezed away from Salvador Salvador, 28:22, but goals from Gomes, Martinez and Silva signed and gave victory to the Portuguese, who finished in sixth place in the last European Championship.
Oleg Botenko said at the end: “We are a little upset. On the one hand, we did not expect to deal with them 45 minutes equally, so I take the good things from this game. We were in the game. We held them in terms of result well. We did not want a high result. When they started pressing our delivery lines, we felt we were missing the direction – because we did not train and were not coordinated. In many situations we got stuck, which is something we will have to resolve later. From there we lost balls and the game ran away from us. It’s hard to say now how to proceed, but it leaves us with the feeling that everything is open in this campaign, and that we can compete, even against top teams from the world. Yes, we paid a price for the period, for the lack of training and games, and in general the distance between the local players and the Legionnaires. Today we played against a team that almost all plays together in Porto, in the Champions League. Highly coordinated team. That is, we are facing forward. I think we have a quality and good team. We need more experience and coordination, but it is clear to everyone – that the future is ahead of us and that the team has amazing and talented guys who fought, despite all the preconditions. “
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