It may have been so very predictable, but Israel’s 3-1 defeat to Russia in St.
Petersburg on Tuesday evening was still no less disappointing.
seeing its hopes of qualifying for a first World Cup since 1970 dashed with a
1-1 home draw against Azerbaijan on Saturday, the national team was playing
mainly for pride in Russia.
Coach Eli Gutman’s defensive game-plan worked
to perfection in the first 45 minutes, but Russia burst out of the gates after a
goalless first half, scoring twice within four minutes to effectively clinch all
“I’m not disappointed from this match,” said Gutman, who is
hoping to be given two more years at the helm after the national team’s campaign
comes to an end next month with the matches against Portugal and Northern
“I know that Russia is clearly a better team than Israel. So far there
have been two disappointing results in this campaign which were the draws
against Azerbaijan. We are simply not good enough to finish in the top two. I
may have raised the expectations by saying that I believe we can qualify for the
World Cup, but I did so out of love, pride and passion.”
Russia was in
control from the first whistle, but Israel initially limited the hosts to very
few chances and the national team was delighted to end the first half in a
However, the blue-and-white would capitulate in the first eight
minutes of the second half.
Four minutes after the break, Vasili
Berezutski made the most of the time and space he was given in the center of the
box to net the opener. Three minutes later, Aleksandr Kokorin clinched the
victory with a sensational shot from the edge of the area and Denis Glushakov
made it 3- 0 in the 74th minute, scoring from the rebound of Roman Shirokov’s
Eran Zahavi scored his first goal for Israel in stoppage
time from a cross by promising left-back Ofir Davidzada, but even that didn’t
bring smiles to the faces of Israel’s players after a dejecting four days that
ended any dream the blueand- white may have had of reaching the World Cup.