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Portugal turnaround fortunes against Israel

Russia's match with Northern Ireland is postponed due to snow as Portugal battle to draw from two goals down.
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2013 16:54
Fabio Coentrao scores with only seconds left to preserve Portugal's chances of qualifying [AP]

Portugal came back from 3-1 down to snatch a draw in stoppage time against Israel in their World Cup qualifying group F match on Friday, a result that keeps both teams in with a chance of qualifying.

The visitors stunned Israel and silenced the 40,000 capacity crowd with a goal in the second minute, but the home side eventually settled.

Israel got back on equal terms in the 24th minute through Tomer Hemed and forged a promising lead with goals by Eden Ben Bassat in the 40th minute and Rami Gershon in the 70th.

"We could say this was a point won, but if we look at the quality of the match we might say as well these were two points lost"

Portugal coach Paulo Bento

But a determined effort by Cristiano Ronaldo, who powered into the Israeli area, set up Helder Postiga to reduce the arrears to 3-2 in the 72nd minute and the equaliser was scored by Fabio Contrao as the visitors laid siege to the Israeli goal.

Israel and Portugal have eight points from their five matches, four behind group leaders Russia, whose game against Northern Ireland in Belfast has been postponed until Saturday due to snow.

"We could say this was a point won, but if we look at the quality of the match we might say as well these were two points lost,'' Portugal coach Paulo Bento said.

"Now it is even more complicated but the playoff place is still on us. We need to raise the spirit of the players. We will try and correct the mistakes and win the next match."

"We started very well but with the game at 1-0 we couldn't manage that advantage," Bento said.

"We lost the rhythm of the match and conceded two goals quite surprisingly."

Weather wreaks havoc

Fabio Capello's Russia will have to wait 24 hours to play their World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland after Friday's clash was postponed due to heavy snow in Belfast.

Former England coach Capello and his players trained on Thursday ahead of the qualifier, but overnight snow and rain, which persisted during Friday afternoon, made the Windsor Park pitch unplayable.

Norwegian referee Tom Hagen and a team of match delegates made a series of inspections starting from 1000GMT, but the decision was finally made to call off the game at 1430GMT. 

The fixture has been rescheduled for 1500GMT on Saturday as officials believe the worst of the snow will have passed by then.

"There is a real willingness on both federations to play. But according to the weather forecast it is due to be bad for parts of tomorrow"

Irish FA head of communications Geoff Wilson

Irish FA head of communications Geoff Wilson said: "There has to be an attempt to play the game tomorrow (Saturday) because FIFA rules say every effort has to be made to play the game the day after postponement.

"There is a real willingness on both federations to play. But according to the weather forecast it is due to be bad for parts of tomorrow."

Even if the Russia game does go ahead, there are also problems looming over Northern Ireland's Group F tie against Israel on Tuesday.

Wilson admitted there was a potential issue with the Israel match as the pitch may not be up to staging two games in quick succession in such bad conditions.

The postponement also means Capello's team will have less time to recover before their glamour friendly against Brazil at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge on Monday.

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Source:
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