UK media praises Israel for Russia win

Soccer victory boosts England's Euro 2008 chances, turns Kashtan's team into lords of London.

Times Israel Match (photo credit: Courtesy)
Times Israel Match
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"We're on oy vye" - a take off of England's being on "our way" to Euro 2008 - was the screaming headline on the front page of the UK's largest-selling Sunday newspaper, The News of the World, as Israel became the darling of the British press for a day after beating Russia's soccer team. "So thanks to Israel, England are back within sight of the Promised Land," the article continued. "England thank Israelis," said The Sunday Express. "England were thrown a Euro 2008 lifeline in Tel Aviv as Israel beat Russia 2-1 to leave [England manager] Steve McClaren's men requiring just a draw against Croatia to qualify." The report continued: "[Omer] Golan's stoppage-time winner, just seconds after Dmitri Sychev had struck a post with a shot which looked destined to send England out, must have raised the roof not only off the Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv but the Grove Hotel in Watford, where McClaren was watching on, accompanied by his coaching staff." Even the usually critical Guardian and Independent newspapers showed appreciation for Israel's valiant moves. "McClaren was understandably buoyant after watching Israel's triumph on television at the team hotel in Watford," said The Independent on Sunday on their back page, with the headline, "Lifeline for lucky England after Israeli heroics." "What a night!" McClaren said. "Absolutely fantastic news for us all. I'd like to pay tribute to Israel for the professional way they went about the job tonight - they showed what a proud nation they are and deserve a lot of praise for their efforts." The Observer, the name of Sunday's edition of The Guardian, ran the headline: "How lucky can you get?" "McClaren off the hook as improbable late turn of events in Tel Aviv brings a happy end to a fraught week," the paper declared, with the article continuing, "Israel delivered a massive favor by beating Russia 2-1 in Tel Aviv to leave England still alive in Group E." In Saturday's Daily Mail newspaper, the main story on the back page was that Israeli coach Dror Kashtan claimed that the family of Russia's Dutch manager Gus Hiddink had saved the lives of Jews during World War II. "The Russia coach is revered as a hero in Tel Aviv for the way his parents helped Jews during the Second World War," the article said. Continuing, it said that Kashtan said: "Russia are led by one of the great coaches in the world, and we all have a warm place in our heart for him because of what his family did during the Holocaust. It's a fact in history what they did. And the people who helped the Jews during the hard times are special to us. Hiddink's parents have been awarded honorary degrees by the Yad Vashem Institute in Tel Aviv in recognition of the compassion they showed towards persecuted Jews. His father, Gerrit, for example, stole food vouchers to feed fleeing Jews in his home village. He also used to rescue injured Allied pilots and carry them to medical stations on his bicycle." However, the Mail on Sunday's back page was dominated by Israel's victory. "England's prayers are answered," it said, sporting a half-paid picture with the caption, "Golan heights: Israel's Omer Golan celebrates scoring the goal that gives England hope." Other stories in the paper paid homage to the "reprieve" given McClaren following Israel's victory. It has also claimed that Golan will receive a $100,000 Mercedes from a British bookmaker for his winning goal. Fred Done, owner of one of the UK's high street betting stores, Betfred, said last week that he would buy the winning Israeli goal scorer a new car as an incentive. "Kiss of Life: Israel revive England's Euro dream with shock victory," was the headline in The Sunday Telegraph, while The Sunday Times heaped praise on Israel's stars in an article entitled: "Israel keep fragile dream alive."