Israel manager Elisha Levy says he’s looking to finish their qualifying campaign in third spot after he saw his side fall to a heavy defeat in Gijon.
2018 World Cup qualifying Group G:
Spain 4 Israel 1
Friday, 24 March, 2017
Goals from David Silva, Vitolo, Diego Costa and Isco sent the Israelis to a comprehensive defeat, though remaining realistic as to what his side can achieve, Levy has pinpointed a third-place finish as a successful campaign.
He said: “We always knew it would be very difficult to finish ahead of Italy and Spain. If we end the group in third place that will be a very good result for us, we beat Macedonia and Albania on the road and third place is our real target.”
Despite coming up against one of the best teams in the world, Levy was unhappy with his side’s performance in Gijon, although admitted they faced an uphill struggle to get a positive result. “We saw why Spain is one of the best teams in the world,” he said, “we decided to try and attack and added a striker during the match and even managed to reach quite a few chances. But that is no consolation. It looked like Spain was playing with more players than us. In hindsight I may have made some mistakes with my team selection, but those were my decisions and we lost as a team.”
Although Israel won’t be making it to next summer’s World Cup in Russia, Levy, who’s contract ends at the end of the qualifying campaign, is set to earn an extention to his contract which wold see him in charge of the side as they look to reach the 2020 European Championships.
Levy’s current contract only runs until the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, but Eini has been impressed with the coach’s job to date and wants him to continue for at least two more years and try and guide the side to the European Championships.
Ofer Eini, the chairman of the Israel Football Association, said: “Levy is a methodical coach with a lot of motivation. As far as I’m concerned he is here for the long run. This campaign is to prepare the team for the next one. I really believe in Elisha. If it’s up to me, he will continue for another campaign.”
Going into the game as major underdogs, the visitors spurned a half-chance early on when Eran Zahavi found himself clean through on goal, though he was unable to test David de Gea in goal, as Gerard Pique closed him down.
Thiago smacked the woodwork with a terrific 25-yard effort, before Manchester City midfielder Villa did find the back of the net in the 13th minute when he finished off a neat move as he fired the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.
Zahavi continued to offer a threat going forward, and they should have been on level terms minutes before the break when Lior Refaelov’s header was well saved by De Gea. That miss proved costly as straight away at the other end, Vitolo’s weak shot beat Marciano and trickled into the back of the net.
Chelsea striker Costa put the game beyond doubt when he headed in six minutes after the restart, and although Rafelov pulled one back for the Israelis ten minutes from time after Rami Gershon had headed against the post, the hosts completed the scoring through substitute Isco two minutes from time.
The loss leaves Israel in third spot, with their next game taking place on 11 June, when they host Albania in Haifa.
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