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Photo: GPO
Netanyahu at game
Photo: GPO
Photo: Gil Nechushtan
Gili Vermouth celebrates after first goal
Photo: Gil Nechushtan
Israel beats Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 in 2016 Euro qualifier
With Prime Minister Netanyahu in the crowd, Israeli national soccer team moved closer towards advancing to European championship.

The Israeli national soccer team beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 Sunday as part of the 2016 Euro qualifiers, after having previously overcome Andorra and Cyprus, keeping its record perfect with three straight victories. Bosnia-Herzegovina was considered the favorite for Group B, but Israel has now catapulted to the top of the group's ranking.

 

 

The game, held in Haifa, was attended by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who even sent the team a hand-drawn doodle wishing them good luck.

 

 

Netanyahu's doodle: 'Good luck to our team tonight'
Netanyahu's doodle: 'Good luck to our team tonight'

 

That result, coupled together with Wales' goalless against Belgium in Brussels, sees the top four teams separated by just four points.Israel leads the group with nine points from three games, one more than Wales, which also has played a game more. Cyprus beat Andorra 5-0 on a hat trick from George Efrem and has six points from four games.

 

They all top the group's two teams that played in the World Cup this summer.

 

PM Netanyahu at game (Photo: Reuven Schwarz)
PM Netanyahu at game (Photo: Reuven Schwarz)

 

The first goal was scored by Gili Vermouth (36'), with Omer Damari (45') who doubled the lead, sending Israel off to halftime with a comfortable advantage. Eran Zehavi nailed home the win with Israel's third goal in the 70th minute,after Toni Sunjic of Bosnia was red-carded early in the second half.

 

Photo: Oz Muallem
Photo: Oz Muallem

 

Despite losing its first match, Bosnia-Herzegovina was considered the favorite for Group B, which also includes Wales and powerhouse Belgium, in addition to Israel, Angora and Cyprus who were presumed to be the least likely to advance.

 

However, with Sunday's loss their chances have dropped to nil.

 

Netanyhu at game (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
Netanyhu at game (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
 

It was Israel's first win over a higher-ranked team since the 2-1 win over Russia in the 2008 Euro qualifiers, and its first win over a team considered a favorite since its epic 5-0 win over Austria in the 2000 Euro qualifiers.

 

Welsh draw

Belgium, ranked fourth in the world, has five points from its first three matches while Bosnia is already facing elimination with two points from four games. Two teams from the group qualify directly for the 2016 finals.

 

Against a makeshift Belgian defense, Welshman Gareth Bale was the lone threat for the underdogs but could not get past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. At the other end, Eden Hazard again failed to provide the decisive thrust for his country, something he so often does for his club Chelsea.

 

In a bruising battle, Belgium winger Dries Mertens was carried off and taken to hospital with a severe concussion after a clash of heads late in the match. And Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini was lucky not to be red carded when a clash with elbows flying left Joe Allen with a bloodied nose.

 

Wales celebrated the draw at the 45,000-capacity King Baudouin Stadium as a victory which brought it a step closer to qualifying for the 2016 finals.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 


First published: 16.11.14, 23:40
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