Israel escapes with a 0-0 draw

Point against England might not be enough to reach Euro 2008.

england israel soccer  (photo credit: ap)
england israel soccer
(photo credit: ap)
Israel's hopes of reaching Euro 2008 took another blow on Saturday night when the side frustrated England, but survived an onslaught to escape with a 0-0 deadlock at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan. The hosts were fortunate to even get the one point and if not for goalkeeper Dudu Awat's excellent performance would have likely been on the wrong side of a thrashing. Israel was on the back foot for most of the match and rarely broke out of its own half during the entire second half. Despite controlling the match, England failed to win for a third straight qualifier and coach Steve McClaren will not be looking forward to reading Sunday morning's tabloids. McClaren has a squad of players that would probably almost be unbeatable if it could play anywhere near the sum of its parts, but for most of Saturday's match England lacked urgency and could not translate its superior possession and skill to goals. The visitors registered 10 shots on goal to Israel's one and keeper Paul Robinson only needed to make three saves during the entire match. "I said before the match that I would be satisfied with any result besides a loss; so I am satisfied," a content Kashtan said after the match. "We are in the same position as England at this point. When we go to England we will have to play to win." Israel and England remain tied on points after the draw, collecting eight points from their five qualifiers to date. Only the top two teams in the group advance to Euro 2008. The 42,000 fans at the packed Ramat Gan pushed Israel forward at the start of the match, and the team could have taken the lead within three minutes. Toto Tamuz escaped Phil Neville, but hit a poor left footed shot high over the goal from just inside the box. After soaking up the Israel pressure in the early minutes, England got more adventurous with Aaron Lennon a constant nuisance for the hosts down the left flank. Lennon's excellent run in the ninth minute ended in a wayward cross, but nine minutes later the visitors were the first to register a shot on goal when Wayne Rooney's soft header was easily collected by the well-placed Awat. In the 22nd minute England was only denied by Awat's well-timed run that helped him reach the ball just before the sliding Frank Lampard. Tamuz was by far the most dangerous Israeli player on the field and within two minutes he had the host's two best scoring chances of the half. In the 27th minute the Nigerian-born striker wriggled his way best the English defense and hit a good right footed shot, only for keeper Robinson to well time his dive and save the ball. Two minutes later Tamuz headed Amit Ben Shushan's cross well, but the ball drifted just wide of Robinson?s goal. Both teams were happy to settle for defending in the latter stages of the half, but England still managed to create one more scoring opportunity before the interval. Phil Neville, of all people, rose the highest to a corner kick, however his header was easily saved by Awat. England seized control of the match at the start of the second half and it wasn't long before Awat was called into action for what would be the first of many times. In the 62nd minute Lampard hit a pinpoint volley that was saved by the diving keeper. Five minutes later the Chelsea midfielder terrorized the host's defense once more when his header from Lennon's cross went centimeters wide of the goal. The visitor's pressure was relentless and less than a minute later Johnson had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. However, Johnson's poor header went harmlessly wide of the net from three meters out. Another minute passed and England was close to scoring once more when Jamie Carragher hit the crossbar with a header direct from a corner kick. Israel was dominated for the entire second half and couldn't break the English pressure. The visitors had one last chance six minutes before the final whistle, but Awat was once more on hand to save Israel's blushes. England even managed to score two disallowed goals, one by Micha Richards and the other by Jermain Defoe, in the final minutes of the match, but it wasn't their night and both sides were forced to settle for a point each.