By Ofer Ronen-Abels
Israel made it three wins from five games in Group 4 as two goals in the space of four minutes helped them defeat the Republic of Ireland.
The home side were in front after just five minutes when Yaniv Azrane rose about the Irish defence to head in Moshe Biton's corner, and they doubled their advantage three minutes later when Leeds United AFC centre-back Henry McStay headed into his own net. McStay made amends in the 35th minute by scoring at the right end to reduce the deficit but 19-year-old Hapoel Petach-Tikva FC forward Shlomi Harbitman's headed goal wrapped up the win for Israel seven minutes after the interval.
Guy Levi's Israel side face France, who returned to the top on head-to-head record later on Friday with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, in a crucial meeting on Tuesday. Israel then visit Ireland on 3 June, the next match for the fourth-placed side who know that defeat that day could well end their realistic hopes of making the play-offs.
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