International Soccer: Hat-trick hero Sahar leads Israel Under 21s past Bulgaria

International Soccer Ha

A Ben Sahar hat-trick kept alive Israel's hopes of reaching the 2011 European Under-21 Championships on Wednesday night. Moti Ivanir's team thrashed Bulgaria 4-0 at National Stadium in Ramat Gan, leading 3-0 at the break through Sahar's brace (8, 24) and an Idan Vered's strike (32). Espanyol striker Sahar scored his third goal of the night to complete the win in the 57th minute. Despite the emphatic victory, coach Ivanir was still far from satisfied with the performance. "We won 4-0 and we were only mediocre," he said. "We knew we had to win this match and now that we have done so we will focus on our next two qualifiers against Sweden." Israel hosts Sweden in its next qualifier on June 4, before visiting the current group leader on September 3. Ivanir's men will wrap up their campaign at home against Montenegro on September 7. There are no automatic spots for the finals. The 10 group winners and four runners-up with the best record advance to the play-offs where seven two-legged ties will decide who joins hosts Denmark in the 2011 finals. Israel qualified for the Under 21 Euros for the first time in 2007, losing all three of its group games. After suffering a disappointing 1-0 loss at Montenegro on Saturday, Israel got Wednesday's match off to an excellent start. Awful defending meant Sahar only had goalkeeper Ivan Karadzhov to beat and the 20-year-old scored the opener thanks to a deflection less than 10 minutes in. Sahar, who has already made 18 appearances for the senior Israel team, scoring five goals, doubled the side's lead with a cool finish in the 24th minute. Betar Jerusalem's Vered made sure the hosts took a three goal advantage into the break eight minutes later, sending his shot in between Karadzhov legs. Sahar rounded the 'keeper in the 57th minute to complete his hat-trick.