When reading the scoreline Israel 3-3 Portugal, I instantly (like the majority of people I am sure) presumed that former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo and company had squandered a lead having taken off the big guns when a couple of goals up.
How wrong I was, though. After falling behind to a Bruno Alves 2nd minute goal, Israel produced a wonderful 60 minutes of football to lead the losing Euro 2012 semi-finalists 3-1 with less than 20 minutes to play.
Unfortunately for Eli Guttman’s men, a mixture of a slight lack of experience when it comes to seeing a game out and the fact that the Selecção side contains many great footballers (including Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world at present), meant that two late goals robbed Israel of a famous victory.
Despite the heartbreak of conceding those strikes, they should travel to Windsor Park with confidence and in the mind-set that they can defeat Northern Ireland and edge closer to leaders of the group Russia, who are not in World Cup Qualifying action this week.
All involved, especially those punters looking forward to winning some money by backing an Israel victory at 13/10, will be pleased that the game has been given the the go-ahead.
Northern Ireland’s fixture against Russia was initially postponed on Friday evening after heavy snow covered the pitch, and once again called off on Saturday, as they were unable to clear the pitch in time.
Having been denied a match at the weekend, Michael O’Neill’s men will be raring to go but remain without a win in Group F and are priced as 2/1 outsiders to pick up their first three points in qualifying this campaign.
Four games in nonetheless and Northern Ireland have only been defeated once – a 2-0 loss in the opener against Russia in September.
All three of those draws – two of which were played out at Windsor Park – ended in a 1-1 scoreline and punters who want to back this outcome again can get odds of 21/4.
But although both of these sides have actually taken points from Portugal during this World Cup Qualifying campaign, I cannot see Northern Ireland being able to get anything in Belfast.
I am more than happy to tip Israel at odds of 13/10 but for punters who want a bit of extra value, I suggest backing Israel to win with over 2,5 goals scored in the match, at odds of 13/4.
Israel’s last six games in all competitions have seen three or more goals scored so they are no strangers to a high scoring affair.
However, the safer shout is an Israel win at 13/10 – it is far too good to overlook for a team that have won three of their last five matches and it should be a walk in the park (or trudge through the snow if the ground staff have failed to clear the pitch yet) for Guttman’s men.
With that in mind, bwin customers who register and use their free £20 bet will receive £46 in winnings if the bet lands.