Tomer Hemed led the Israeli national team to a 6 - 0 away victory over Luxembourg in the World Cup qualifying Group F on Friday.
Hemed scored a hat trick (27, 73, 90+1,) while Maharan Radi, Eden Ben-Basat and Maor Melikson rounded out the score.
Luxembourg player Dan Da Mota missed at the penalty slot, firing the ball way above the net.
Luxembourg has certainly shown progress in recent years,
winning one match in each of its last three qualifying campaigns after going
five consecutive campaigns without picking up a single point, losing 56 straight
qualifiers at one stage.
Luxembourg has also already made its mark in the
current campaign, stretching Portugal’s nerves before falling to a 2-1 defeat
and recording a surprise 1-1 draw at Northern Ireland.
Israel’s dismal performances in its first two qualifiers provided a stark contrast to Luxembourg's strong start.
The 1-1 draw at Azerbaijan and
especially the 4-0 home humbling at the hands of Russia did not only end any
meager hope Israel had of reaching a first major tournament since 1970, but also
shattered the team’s confidence to such an extent that matches which were once a
foregone conclusion now seem like an uphill battle.
“We are taking our
opponent very seriously,” said Gutman prior to the match. “Luxembourg plays with a 4-3-3
formation and has an excellent midfielder in Ben Payal, with the striker
Aurelien Joachim also a real handful.”
Only five of Luxembourg’s players
are full professionals and Gutman clearly understood that there would be no
excuse for a failure.
disappointing start to the campaign, Gutman decided to overhaul his squad ahead
of the two matches against Luxembourg, with the blue-and-white to host the group
minnows next Tuesday.
Gutman decided to only call up players who appear
regularly for their club sides, meaning captain Yossi Benayoun (West Ham
United), Tal Ben-Haim (without a club), Itay Shechter (Swansea City), Ben Sahar
(Hertha Berlin) and Almog Cohen (Nuremberg) were all axed.
Reuters contributed to this report