Israel easily beats Andorra in Holland

Benayoun, Ben Shushan, Gershon and Tamuz score in 4-1 win.

benayoun soccer 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
benayoun soccer 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel brushed aside Andorra in its second Euro 2008 qualifier on Wednesday night defeating the European minnows 4-1 in Nijmegen, Holland. The Israelis scored two goals in the first 11 minutes of its "home" match and had no trouble holding on to its lead against the weakest team in the group. The win was Israel's second in five days after the team defeated Estonia 1-0 in Tallinn on Saturday night. "We expected to take six points in our first two games," Israel captain Yossi Benayoun said after the match. "We were prepared and knew that they would concentrate on defending. We hoped to score quick goals and gladly it happened. Now we can rest ahead of the game against Russia." Israel's next match will be an entirely different proposition with the team traveling to Moscow to play Russia on October 7. The Russians are certain to give Israel a far sterner test then the Estonians or Andorrans and the blue-and-white will need to improve their play appropriately. Israel began the match on Wednesday night with one change in its starting lineup from Saturday. Amit Ben Shushan replacing Betar Jerusalem teammate Michael Zandberg. Ben Shushan was Israel's most impressive player on the field, scoring once and assisting once in his first international start. "It's great to start my international career this way," Ben Shushan said after the match. "We scored a lot of goals and did our job. The Andorrans only came to defend and it made life difficult." Israel knew the importance of scoring an early goal and wasted no time in grabbing the lead. Nine minutes into the match Benayoun scored his 13th international goal after Idan Tal crossed the ball from the left flank and the West Ham United midfielder headed the ball over the Andorran defense and goalkeeper. Two minutes later Israel had already doubled its lead. Omri Afek found Ben Shushan in the center of the Andorran box and the young forward made no mistake, shooting beyond the visitor's keeper. Andorra, which lost all of its previous 19 European championship qualifiers, was content on defending even after going two goals down and was more interested in damage control then in working its way back into the match. In the 38th minute Ben Shushan almost scored his second of the match when his cross was making its way into the net only for the Andorran keeper to tip the ball over the bar. Five minutes later Shimon Gershon scored Israel's third from a penalty kick after an Andorran defender handled the ball in the box. The second half was similar to the first with Israel in total control of the match. Bolton defender Tal Ben Haim almost scored with a header in the 52nd minute and 10 minutes later Benayoun came close with a shot from the edge of the area. Israel finally got its fourth goal of the match in the 69th minute. Debutant Toto Tamuz scored seven minutes after coming on as a substitute with a powerful shot from outside the box. Andorra, which had Fernando Silva sent off in the 78th minute after elbowing Roberto Colautti, scored its consolation goal six minutes from the final whistle. Juli Fernandez took his chance and beat keeper Dudu Awat and improved his teams' goal difference to 5-73 in 20 European qualifiers. Russia 0, Croatia 0 Israel's next two opponent's in Group E, Russia and Croatia, played out a scoreless draw in Moscow on Wednesday. In Guus Hiddink's first competitive game as Russia's coach, Croatia dominated the match in front of 29,000 fans at a wet Lokomotiv stadium despite missing three players. England 1, Macedonia 0 England joined Israel at the top of Group E after beating Macedonia by a single Peter Crouch goal in Skopje on Wednesday night.