Zahavi hat-trick powers Israel past Austria

“Let's see what everyone says now, especially those who felt the national team no longer needed me," said Zahavi after the match.

 Israel forward Eran Zahavi  (photo credit: MAOR ELKASLASI)
Israel forward Eran Zahavi
(photo credit: MAOR ELKASLASI)
Israel forward Eran Zahavi more than rose to the occasion on Sunday night at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, with a hat-trick to lead the blue-and-white to a 4-2 victory over visiting Austria in an entertaining Euro 2020 qualifier.
After Marko Arnautovic gave the Austrians a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute, Zahavi equalized for the Israelis in the 34th minute and, in the waning moments of the first half, gave the hosts a 2-1 advantage and turned the momentum of the contest in favor of the blue-and-white.
After the break, Israel dominated possession and Zahavi completed his marvelous scoring display with a third goal in the 55th minute.
“Let's see what everyone says now, especially those who felt the national team no longer needed me," said Zahavi after the match." It's a bit hypocritical because we have to support the players. It may be funny, but throwing the film was the best thing that happened to the Israeli national team, everyone got a nose and learned from it."
"It was the biggest game of my career and I'm excited I was able to help the national team," he added. “We started off slowly, we really just needed something to light a fire under us and I am glad I was able to do that.”
Moanes Dabour increased the lead to 4-1 before Arnautovic netted his second tally of the night to close out the scoring in the 75th minute.
The result gave blue-and-white coach Andreas Herzog a victory over his homeland, and Israel’s first victory over Austria since 1999.
Herzog was also elated with the result.
“Obviously this was not just a regular game for me,” Israel’s Austrian coach said. "In the first half, Austria was better than us. Ariel Harush made a number of unbelievable saves to keep us in the match early. I want to thank the fans and especially my players, I'm proud of them.”
On Zahavi’s perforamance, Herzog said: "I do not have words to describe how important he was for us tonight. Although Eran and Moanes starred, it was a collective effort of everyone on the team."
At the end of the game, Israel sat second in Group G with four points from its first two qualification matches, with Poland atop the group, having taken all six points from both matches. The Israelis will visit Latvia on June 7 in its next qualifier.



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