England overpowers Israel 3-0 in London

National team captain Yossi Benayoun: "They are simply better and stronger, and that's why we lost."

By JEREMY LAST, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
September 8, 2007 20:56
3 minute read.
England overpowers Israel 3-0 in London

England israel 2 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Israel was taught a lesson in quality soccer on Saturday afternoon, when the national team was easily beaten 3-0 by a far stronger and more professional England side in a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier at Wembley Stadium. Goals from Shaun Wright-Phillips, Michael Owen and Micah Richards showed Israel to be lacking in the face of an impressive and well executed England performance. The result left Israel in fourth place in Group E, joint on points with third placed England, after Russia beat Macedonia 3-0 earlier on Saturday. Realistically, Israel will have to beat Croatia away from home on October 17 to stand any chance of qualifying for the European Championship, as both Russia and England have a game in hand, which will be played when the teams face each other at Wembley on Wednesday. Croatia look certain to qualify in first place, while the other teams will fight for the second spot. Israel's coach Dror Kashtan's tactics backfired on Saturday, as his team went from bad in the first half, with hardly any real attacks, to downright embarrassing in the second, when they appeared to have given up. The visiting team sat back and allowed England to come at them and never looked like equalizing after Wright-Phillips put the home side ahead. "There are obviously gaps between us and England, it was a well known fact before the game and it showed today," Kashtan said after the game. Israel captain Yossi Benayoun was equally disappointed by the performance. "England looked better than us during the entire match," he said. "We did what we could, but it wasn't enough. They are simply better and stronger than us and that's why we lost. We must be realistic and understand that if we play them 20 times we might defeat them once." England was buoyed by the inclusion of Steven Gerrard in the center of midfield, despite a toe injury. Joe Cole and Wright Phillips conducted a performance which finally did coach Steve McClaren proud. The first real chance of the match fell to Emile Heskey, whom many pundits said was not good enough for the England team. Heskey suggested his critics were right when he ballooned a shot over the bar. Israel then came under pressure from all sides of the pitch. Wright-Phillips and Heskey were constantly tormenting Ziv on the left side of the defense. Israel's frustration showed after 15 minutes, when Heskey chested the ball to Gerrard, who was fouled just outside the box by Shimon Gershon. The pressure paid off for England, when Wright Phillips scored the first goal after 20 minutes. Joe Cole crossed from the left hand side and Wright-Phillips, unmarked, easily volleyed in. Israel tried to come back, but an appalling cross by Idan Tal, which went high and wide of Paul Robinson's goal, gave little hope to the boys in blue and white. Owen came closest to doubling England's lead with seven minutes to go in the first half, when Joe Cole brought the ball down to the Newcastle United forward, but his first shot was saved at close range by Awat and his second went over the bar. Yet Israel still kept men behind the ball. When Benayoun broke, he had only Katan and Itzhaki as options to pass to, while the rest of the team stayed back. Five minutes before half time Ashley Cole forced a save out of Awat and one could sense another goal for the home side was imminent. It came just a couple of minutes into the second half. Barry slipped the ball to Owen, who turned and shot on the half volley with aplomb. Right back Micah Richards made it 3-0 with a header from a corner on 66 minutes and the game was sewn up.

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