Wales 0-0 Israel: Assistants are doing nothing, blasts Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman, the Wales manager, last night demanded to know what assistant referees positioned behind goals do, after the rejection of a very strong handball appeal denied his side the breakthrough they needed against Israel.
Eytan Tibi, one of the five-strong defence in an Israel side lacking any ambition, deflected a Neil Taylor cross away from Hal Robson-Kanu after 66 minutes and the denial of a penalty infuriated Coleman. "It was a penalty all day long," said the manager, whose side were denied two more marginal handball calls in Cyprus on Thursday.
"I don't know what the officials behind the goal are doing to be honest, when they have the best [chance to make the] decision. They've got to make the call. How many times do you see that? I've never seen it, other than the penalty against us in Andorra [12 months ago]."
In truth, it was the lack of Welsh creativity and quality in finishing which contributed more to the stalemate in a game which saw the home side enjoy more than 65% of possession for most of the game. Coleman admitted that an ability to break down such defensive teams was an area he must work on ahead of probable qualification for next summer's European Championships in France. "The next stage for us is learning to cope with these teams who come to frustrate," he said. "We aren't used to it."
Coleman accused Israel of kicking Bale, who had a strong start to the game but only began to threaten again after the hour mark. "Gareth Bale is shattered; he took some clumps in Cyprus as well," the manager said. He also pointed to the absence, through injury, of holding midfielders Joe Allen and Joe Ledley as mitigating circumstances behind the draw.
The lack of tempo to the Wales side - with Leicester City's Andy King and Wolverhampton Wanderers' David Edwards both struggling to surprise an Isreal team content to soak up pressure - meant that Bale and Aaron Ramsey were forced to drop deep to gather the ball. "We've lost all our holding midfielders, had to adapt and I was pleased - the boys had to do a lot of running and hung on in there well," Coleman said.
Israel's manager, Eli Guttman, rejected Coleman's protests about the penalty. "It was not a penalty, in my opinion," he said.
"The fans shout, but if you are such a good team, don't shout just for penalties.
"I didn't think it was a handball. I didn't see any advantage from these Premier League players and one of the best in the world."
Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Williams, Davies, Richards, Ramsey, Edwards, King (Vokes 86), Taylor, Bale, Robson-Kanu (Church 79)
Subs not used: Chester, MacDonald, Vokes, Vaughan, Cotterill, Collins, Lawrence, Ward, Williams, Henley
Israel: Marciano, Dasa, Dgani, Ben Haim, Tibi, Ben Harush, Bitton, Natcho, Kayal (Ben Haim 45), Zahavi (Sahar 93), Dabour (Hemed 45)
Subs not used: Levi, Meshumar, Melikson, Bar Buzaglo, Davidzada, Vermouth, Tzedek, Kehat, Haimov
Bookings: Wales: Richards, Robson-Kanu
Israel: Dasa, Dgani, Bitton, Dabour
Man of the match: Bale
Referee: Ivan Bebek (Croatia)