Odhran Crumley reports from Windsor Park
In truth, it was one way traffic from the get-go as Northern Ireland turned in an empathic display to thump Israel 3-0 at Windsor Park in this international friendly.
Michael O’Neill’s men, who were unlucky to loss to Bosnia and Herzegovina last Saturday in the UEFA Nations League, bounced back from that 2-1 defeat with a thoroughly deserved win against a poor Israeli side.
Captain Steve Davis opened the scoring with a thumping effort before Stuart Dallas doubled the advantage before the break.
Gavin Whyte rounded off the scoring capping a memorial debut firing in a rebound to seal the victory for Michael O’Neill’s men.
Northern Ireland controlled the early possession without creating any real chances of note. Left back Jamal Lewis was heavily involved in some good play before having a left footed volley blocked by Ayad Habashi.
The home side were able to capitalise on their possession when they took the lead in the 13thminute of the game with a routine straight from the training ground.
Paddy McNair played a corner towards the edge of the area which was timed just right to meet the run of captain Steve Davis. He duly blasted the ball into the roof of the net with the help of a feather thin deflection of an Israeli defender.
The visitors had their first sniff of goal mid-way through the half when Bibras Natcho fired the ball into Munas Dabbur who superbly improvised, spinning on the volley but a lack of power made it an easy stop for Trevor Carson.
Stuart Dallas doubled his side’s lead minutes before the break expertly finishing George Saville’s deep, searching cross on the volley at the back post with a deft side foot finish.
It was a well deserved lead for NI at the break after they controlling the opening half. Michael O’Neill made a couple of half time changes which included bringing on Michael McGovern in goal in place of Trevor Carson.
Israel started the second half well with Tomer Hemed heading Eytan Tibi’s cross back across goal only for McGovern to react sharpest and claim possession.
On the hour mark, Stuart Dallas almost saw his cross catch Guy Haimov out and drop into the net but Haimov retreating before catching on the back foot.
It was 3-0 in the 67thminute of the game thanks to substitute Gavin Whyte who had only just been introduced into the game. He hammered home the rebounder with his first touch after Conor Washington had his initial effort bravely saved by the goalkeeper.
Michael O’Neill’s charges continued to dominate in their search for a fourth goal only for Haimov to deny Washington yet again from point blank range on two separate occasions.
In the end it finished 3-0 to the green and white army who look ahead to two away fixtures in the next round of UEFA Nations League games.
Northern Ireland: Trevor Carson (Michael McGovern h/t); Jamal Lewis, Greg Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Paddy McNair; Steven Davis, Corry Evans (Oliver Norwood HT), George Saville (Michael Smith 71); Stuart Dallas (Shane Ferguson 78), Will Grigg (Conor Washington 63), Jordan Jones (Gavin Whyte 63).
Subs not Used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Conor McLaughlin, Niall McGinn, Kyle Lafferty, Liam Boyce, Jamie Ward.
Israel: Guy Haimov; Eli Dasa, Taleb Twatha (Shmuel Scheimann 40), Ayad Habashi (Nisso Kapiloto HT), Sheran Yeini; Eytan Tibi, Bibras Natcho, Dor Peretz, Dor Micha (Alon Turgeman 58); Tomer Hemed (Dia Seba 58), Munas Dabbur (Dan Glazer 75).
Subs not Used: Mahmud Kannadli, Daniel Amos, Maxim Plakushchenko, Daniel Einbinder, Ben Bitton.
Booked: Tomer Hemed (38),
Referee: Bas Nijhuis (Netherlands)
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Steven Davies (Northern Ireland)