Israel's dejecting 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign mercifully came to an end on Monday night with a 1-0 defeat to Spain at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.The match was meaningless for both sides, with Israel losing four of its previous five games, while Spain had already officially booked its place in next year's World Cup in Russia with Friday's 3-0 win over Albania.Asier Illarramendi scored the only goal of the uneventful encounter in Jerusalem in the 76th minute, giving Spain's second-string lineup another win.Israel knew it had no chance of progressing as soon as it was drawn in Group G with Spain and Italy, with only the winners of each group qualifying automatically for Russia 2018, while the eight best runners-up will play home-and-away playoffs.After losing to Italy in its opener, the blue-and-white bounced back with three straight wins, including a 3-0 victory at Albania. But the team's performances were mediocre at best and matters quickly deteriorated.
Israel dropped to a record equaling four consecutive defeats and failed to score a goal in three straight matches.
The losing streak began with a 4-1 thrashing in Spain in March and was followed by a 3-0 home loss to Albania and last month's 1-0 defeats to Macedonia and Italy. It was finally snapped with a 1-0 win over Liechtenstein in Vaduz on Friday, but the blue-and-white yet again failed to find the back of the net on Monday.Israeli television channel Kan [Here] fiercely lashed out at coach Elisha Levy. Reporter Hadas Greenberg repeatedly asked him to comment on this failed effort and he flatly declined. The other commentators said that Israeli soccer suffers from outdated training facilities, training programs and that the youth teams are not getting the helping hand they need. The television channel went as far as to say that even though the media keeps reporting on the sad state of Israeli soccer ‘nothing ever changes’, Greenberg herself ended the broadcast by stating that Israel will not take part in the World Cup “but we all got used to it by now.” Spain ended the campaign with 28 of a possible 30 points, winning nine matches and drawing one, while amassing a goal difference of 36-3.
Hagay Hacohen contributed to this article.