Irish and Israel share the spoils

David Healy won his 75th cap but it was Grant McCann's first-half goal that earned Northern Ireland a 1-1 friendly draw with Israel in Belfast.

Last Updated: 12/08/09 at 22:11 Post Comment

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Sunderland striker Healy was taken off by manager Nigel Worthington in the 59th minute and replaced by Martin Paterson after failing to find the net for the sixth match running.

Healy has been stuck on 35 goals for months now and his poor form in front of goal will be causing concern in the camp.

Worthington was looking for a morale-boosting win ahead of the vital World Cup qualifier against Poland next month.

Instead they had to settle for a share of the spoils with Elyaniv Barda cancelling out Grant McCann's opening goal.

The province suffered a blow on the day of the game when Manchester United defender Jonny Evans returned home for treatment on an ankle injury.

Israel showed their intent as early as the sixth minute with Avihai Yadin rattling in a shot from distance. However Birmingham goalkeeper Maik Taylor got his body behind the ball to make a comfortable save.

Israel were playing some neat football and Yossi Benayoun saw his effort cannon off George McCartney in the 15th minute.

It was Northern Ireland, though, who took the lead after 17 minutes through McCann.

The Scunthorpe midfielder dusted himself down after being upended and fired a 20-yard free-kick beyond Dudu Aouate. The goalkeeper, who looked slow to react, only succeeded in palming the ball into the corner of the net.

It was McCann's fourth goal for the province but Israel equalised in the 25th minute following a sweeping move.

Roberto Collauti linked up with Aviram Baruchyan and he released Elyaniv Barda. He showed good skill to clip his effort over Taylor to bring the sides level.

Northern Ireland hit back in the 31st minute and Kyle Lafferty got on the end of a fine cross from Chris Baird, only for the goalkeeper to save comfortably.

However they had a scare four minutes later when Dekel Keinan got clear of his marker when Baruchyan delivered an inswinging corner.

Keinan powered in a header but Damien Johnson was perfectly positioned at the post and cleared off the line.

The province again found themselves on the backfoot in the 41st minute when Yadin showed good skill before firing in a shot that went narrowly wide of the post.

Baird then had to make a face-saving tackle on Benayoun as the midfielder strode forward and was grateful to concede a corner.

Both sides changed their goalkeeper at half-time with Partick's Jonny Tuffey replacing Taylor while Nir Davidovich came on for Aouate.

Healy turned quickly in the 51st minute but was unable to get enough power on his shot and Davidovich made the save.

Substitute Steven Davis then sent his Rangers team-mate Lafferty clear down the left in the 66th minute but his cross was cut out and the move broke down.

Fellow sub Martin Paterson showed good skill to carve out an opening in the 69th minute and released Davis but he hesitated and the ball was cleared.

Northern Ireland continued to push forward and sub Gareth McAuley headed wide following a cross from McCann in the 79th minute.

The province were grateful to Tuffey a minute later, however, when he booted clear Collauti's close-range effort as the match ended with honours even.

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