Int'l Soccer: U-21s eliminated from Euro Championship

Israel's 4-0 thrashing by Portugal ends humiliating week.

u21 soccer 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
u21 soccer 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel's miserable week at the European Under-21 Championship ended in appropriate fashion on Saturday night. The national team was thrashed 4-0 by Portugal, losing for third time in three group matches. The side was helpless against the superb Portuguese, who scored their four goals between the 37th and 50th minutes of the match. Manuel Fernandes opened the flood gates, with Ricardo Vaz T , Miguel Veloso and Nani completing the humiliation. The defeat leaves Israel bottom of Group A, with the team not only failing to collect points in the tournament, but also not managing to score a single goal during its three matches. Portugal's supremacy is made clear by the fact the team registered a massive 29 shots towards the Israel goal, with the blue-and-white only managing four attempts. Portugal dominated the proceedings at the start of the match, pressuring Israel to its goal. The Portuguese, however, failed to convert their control into shots on goal and were very nearly hit on the break in the 17th minute. Idan Srur's cross from a 30-meter free kick was missed by both sets of players and was only just cleared by keeper Paulo Ribeiro. Portugal continued to dictate the play, but struggled to break down the Israel defense. In the 20th minute striker Ricardo Vaz T wasted Joao Moutinho's excellent build up play, heading the ball poorly. Israel?s midfield was in total disarray and a Portugal goal was only a question of time. In the 34th minute Manuel da Costa's powerful 30-meter shot was well saved by keeper Tom Almadon and less than a minute later Portugal's Nani almost scored the goal of the tournament. The new Manchester United signing, who tormented the Israelis throughout the match, released an acrobatic bicycle kick that only just missed Almadon's goal. Eight minutes before halftime, however, Portugal finally took a well deserved lead. Nani's pass found Manuel Fernandes on the edge of the Israel box and the Everton midfielder released an unstoppable shot that went in off the crossbar. In the final minute of the half Portugal doubled its lead after abysmal marking by the Israeli defense. Jo o Pereira's cross found Vaz T all alone in the center of the Israel box and the Bolton Wanderers player easily headed in his side's second goal of the match. Israel coach Guy Levy substituted Lior Rafaelov with Omer Peretz after the interval, but within five second half minutes any lingering hope the blue-and-white still had was ended by two more Portugal goals. Four minutes after the break the Israel defense failed to intercept Miguel Veloso left footed free kick, which sailed into the corner of Almadon's net. A minute later Nani scored the goal of the match, hitting a ferocious right footed shot into the roof of the Israel goal.