Kaspars Gork?s’ goal for Latvia secured a crucial three points as they defeated Israel in Tel Aviv.
The Queens Park Rangers central defender popped on the hour mark to score the only goal of the game in the Ramat Gan Stadium. He rose highest in the area to beat defender Dekai Keinan in the air and power a header home.
This was his first goal since his one an only strike in October 2007 when he scored against Denmark, and it was not only his goalscoring prowess that impressed against Israel – it was his formidable partnership with Deniss Ivanovs that helped keep a vital clean sheet.
Latvia grew in strength throughout the 90 minutes with Ivanovs and Gorkss proving to be rocks at the centre of defence. Another positive came as Yossi Benayoun was confusingly withdrawn by Israel boss Dror Kastan, a real positive for the Latvian rearguard.
A bitter blow for Latvia came with Switzerland’s win over Greece – the 2-0 victory for the Swiss helped solidify their second place in Group Two and Latvia have it all to do if they want to qualify as runners up.
Gorkss didn’t feature for QPR in their first win of the season against Scunthorpe United last week, but it is anticipated he will re-join the squad for the home fixture against Peterborough United in the absence of Fitz Hall.
Gorkss climbs above Dekai Keinan to score
Meanwhile Heidar Helguson played the entire game as Iceland drew at home with Norway. Former Liverpool full-back John Arne-Riise handed Norway the lead but ex-Chelsea and Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjonsen levelled matters before half time. The QPR striker even picked up a booking for his troubles with just over five minutes remaining.
Akos Buzsaky was given a meagre four minutes of Hungary’s 2-1 home defeat to Sweden as their automatic qualification hopes took a blow at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium. Former Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg has given Sweden the lead before a Szabolcs Huszti penalty levelled matters.
Buzsaky replaced Tamas Hajnal on 86 minutes, but then the bitter blow came as Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored what proved to be the winner.
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