Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 7 March 2015

Millar's boys left crushed by Israel

Israel 4 Northern Ireland 1

Israel clinically crushed Northern Ireland's aspirations of landing Elite Milk Cup glory in the tournament's 25th anniversary year last night.

Despite deservedly taking the lead through Jonathan Taylor's 23rd minute goal, Roy Millar's youngsters faced a backlash as their skilful opponents went into overdrive to equalise and hammer in three more goals to complete a convincing victory.

One of the chief architects of their downfall was man of the match Maor Bar Buzaglo who thrilled a crowd of almost 4,000 with his remarkable poise and precision, as well as a bag full of tricks.

Northern Ireland bossed the early exchanges and deserved the lead given to them by Hearts defender Taylor.

That, however, that proved to be the beginning of the end, although they did not disgrace themselves in a highly entertaining confrontation.

Obviously Millar had demanded a high tempo start from his players, who were again watched by new senior international boss Nigel Worthington.

They produced an effective attacking style which had the Israelis back pedalling for a period.

The Israelis were not in the back seat for long though, producing a class act which Northern Ireland could not match.

Sheffield United midfielder Marty Donnelly quickly became involved and with only two minutes on the clock he demonstrated his class, cutting in from the left wing to unload a shot wide.

Then the fleet-footed star curled a free kick onto the head of Chris Casement, but the Ipswich Town defender angled his header just wide from six yards with the Israel defence struggling to cope with him.

Northern Ireland continued to keep the pressure on and Donnelly, always a problem for the Israeli defence, cracked in a long range shot which goalkeeper Gal Mesika watched flash wide.

Relentlessly the green shirts flooded the midfield and Casement stole in to steer a header over the crossbar.

Israel finally got the opportunity to respond and captain Maor Bar Buzaglo forced Sunderland goalkeeper Trevor Carson into a save before Moshe Ben Lulu also managed to find the target although Carson was hardly over extended in taking he ball.

The resilience of Northern Ireland shone through as Robbie Weir found Curtis Allen outside the box and the Bournemouth striker side stepped past a defender before sending a shot wise of the post.

The reward finally came when Donnelly floated over a corner and Taylor rose high to head past Mesika.

The Israelis responded within four minutes and the pattern of the game changed completely.

They stepped up a gear and Hen Azriel slotted home the equaliser when he collected the ball unmarked, cut into the box and beat Carson with a ground shot.

Northern Ireland went behind in unfortunate circumstances eight minutes later when Avraham Rikan side-footed Azriel's centre from the right at Carson. The goalkeeper couldn't smother the ball cleanly and it spun behind him and crossed the line before he was able to stretch out his arm to scoop the ball back.

Northern Ireland should have went further behind just before the break. Azriel collected Oshri Roash's pinpoint pass and slid the ball through for Ben Lulu to connect with a half volley which was deflected wide.

The game finally went beyond the boys in green on 49 minutes when Rickan rolled a shot past Carson after Buzaglo had mesmerised the home defence.

As Northern Ireland tried to respond Casement caused problems for the Isrealis before Buzaglo was again out of luck.

Substitute Jonathan Flynn almost pulled one back in the 68th minute when his looping header cannoned off the bar.

There was more to come from the Israelis though as the brilliant Buzaglo rounded off a sensational individual performance with the goal of the game.

After collecting a pass outside the box he weaved his magic before angling a shot past Carson from eight yards.

Former Larne midfielder Robbie Weir almost caught Mesika wondering off his line with a long range attempt which only drifted wide of the top right hand corner.

ISRAEL: Mesika, Shkalim, Roash (Yonnis, 81), Elkayam, Danon, Rikan, Buzaglo Zizov, 90), Lulu (Damari, 90), Kayal (Kain, 90), Azriel , Abukart.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Carson, Chapman, Casement, Taylor, Weir, Allen (Little, 58), Carvill, Donnelly (McGovern 74), Curran (Boyd 78 mins), Harpur (Flynn, 58), Shroot (Henderson, 46).

Referee: Colin Burns (Glengormley).


Northern Ireland Milk Cup play-offs: 3rd/6th place - Chile 4, Denmark 2; Turkey 2, Wales 2.

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