Israel: Davidovich (Awat 45'); Talker, Benado,
Gershon, Brumer, Keisi; Tal, Berkovich (Benayoun 85'), Zeituni; Nimny, Revivo
(Banin 70'). 5-3-2.
Spain: Cañizares; Manuel Pablo, Nadal, Hierro, Sergi; Baraja, Guardiola (Diego Tristán 59'), Valerón (Iván Helguera 76'), Luis Enrique (Puyol 83'); Raúl, Javi Moreno. 4-4-2.
1-0. 05. Revivo. Received return pass from Berkovich and headed past Cañizares.
1-1. 63. Raúl. Poked ball past Awat after Luis Enrique squared across.
A vital match this one, and a good result here and we are on our way to the World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan in the summer. No question of going to Israel to watch this game live, with Tel Aviv awash with police and security guards after the terrorist attack at the weekend. In any case my insurance company would certainly not cover me for the trip, having had to pay out a fortune to restore my flat to normal after last weekend's visit from the Bosnians. The refugees have finally moved out after pressure from the police, (although I did find a couple of them living in my clothes closet yesterday), and we eventually got the washing machine down from the roof. However there is still no sign of my television set, and so we go round to Goran's place for this one, with Goran feeling guilty so getting the beer in. Raúl passes a late fitness test so Camacho makes four changes from last Saturday's game, with Sergi, Valerón and Javi Moreno coming in for Juanfran, Iván Helguera and Diego Tristán, and Baraja replacing the injured Mendieta on the right of midfield. That doesn't work too well though, and very soon Valerón and Baraja change positions. Pity Munitis is suspended, as the best move would be for him to play on the left and Luis Enrique on the right.
Needing a win to have a reasonable chance of qualifying Israel start confidently, and with only five minutes gone they take the lead. The goal comes from a man who played in Spain for Celta Vigo, Revivo, who beats Cañizares with a diving header after Berkovich lays the ball across from the left of the penalty area. More is to come, and Cañizares keeps Spain in the game pushing a Berkovich free kick on to the crossbar with a spectacular leap (a 'palomita' as we say in Spain). Finally we get back, with Davidovich getting involved for the first time saving from Luis Enrique. The keeper then goes through an accident prone stage with four injuries in half an hour, firstly crashing against the post, then bumping in to Hierro and Baraja, and finally twisting his knee as he comes out of his area to close down Javi Moreno. As he lays on the ground Spain keep on playing, and Zeituni heads a shot from Baraja off the line as the crowd call for the ball to be put out of play. When play stops the keeper is replaced by Dudu Awat (good name that), and Goran remarks that Davidovich is so unlucky that, were he to be one of Pamela Anderson's triplets, he would be the one on the bottle.
The door bell rings after the half time whistle goes, and it is a young boy holding a car radio. "Do you want to buy a radio, mister?". No thank you I reply, I already got one. I return to the match, and soon after the restart Raúl fails to capitalise on a chance after Baraja sets him up. With an hour gone Camacho brings on Diego Tristán for Guardiola, and although the Depor striker doesn't have a hand in it, we get the equalising goal almost immediately. Baraja starts the move to Valerón, who works the ball through for Luis Enrique to set up Raúl for his 21st goal for Spain. He is now level with Michel in fifth place of all time scorers, and with Sallinas on 22 and Di Stefano 23 he could soon be past them and on the road to catch up with Butragueño and Hierro. That is it as far as Camacho is concerned, and he makes defensive substitutions to make sure of the point.
With two games to go and the last one away at Liechtenstein, even a point at home against Austria at the beginning of September should be enough for Spain to qualify now for the finals. Baraja and Helguera will both be suspended for that game, but there are plenty of players to take their place, so we are not worried. After all, we have now gone over eight years since we last lost in a World Cup qualifier, and the problem is more so what will we do when we get there? I say goodbye to Goran and go back to my car, only to find the radio has been stolen. Come to think of it, the one the boy was holding did look like mine. Now how am I going to explain this to my insurance company?