Soccer-Ukraine make it a losing start for Israel coach Guttman

PETAH TIKVA, Israel Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:37pm GMT

PETAH TIKVA, Israel Feb 29 (Reuters) - Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine gave Eli Guttman a losing start to his reign as Israel coach by registering a 3-2 victory in a friendly on Wednesday.

The visitors dominated the first half and capitalised on Israeli defensive errors in a fast-paced match played in driving rain.

Oleg Gusev set Ukraine on their way with a 17th minute penalty and Evgeniy Konoplianka made it 2-0 just before halftime.

A more organised Israeli side applied more pressure in the second half and were given added pace as a result of Ben Sahar replacing Yossi Benayoun.

Tomer Hemed pulled one back for the home team with a penalty in the 56th minute before Ukraine went 3-1 up when Andriy Yarmolenko struck from close range.

Sahar scored a 63rd-minute consolation for Israel after Hemed sent him running into the area with a pass that cut through the defence.

"I was very pleased we managed to attain a good level of coordination after only two days of training," said Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin.

"We played well in the first half but in the second we lost our way a bit and tempers frayed. We cannot afford that sort of thing at Euro 2012."

Guttman, who succeeded Frenchman Luis Fernandez two months ago, was happy with the togetherness shown by Israel who failed to qualify for Euro 2012 to be held in Ukraine and Poland in June.

"We must tighten our defensive play but what pleased me was the cohesion of the team and that they continued to go forward even when they conceded the third goal," he said.

"They play as a team and that is what I want. It wasn't easy in the conditions today." (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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