A superb hat-trick from Omer Damari saw Israel defeat Andorra 4-1 as they maintained their 100 percent winning start to their 2016 Euro qualifying campaign.
UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier Group B
Andorra 1 Israel 4
Monday, 13 October, 2014
Buoyed by their win in Cyprus on Friday night, Eli Guttman’s side got off to the perfect start when in the third minute, Damari saw his cross-cum-shot beat Ferran Pol in the Andorran goal.
However, their lead didn’t last long as ten minutes later, Celtic midfielder Nir Biton was adjudged to have pushed Ildefons Lima in the back at a corner. Lima stood up and sent Ofir Martziano the wrong way to level up the score.
Christian Martinez then tried his luck with an audacious overhead kick as Andorra began to look lively, while at the other end Pol had to be alert to smother the ball under pressure from Tal Ben Haim II.
Ivan Lorenzo then had a free header from a corner booted away by the other Tal Ben Haim in the Israeli team, the captain in central defence.
Full-back Eyal Meshumar then found the back of the net after playing a neat one-two with Eran Zahavi, but his celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee’s flag.
Andorra then lost their talisman Lima through injury and just as they were regrouping, Israel retained in the 40th minute when Damari applied a simple finish at the near post having been set up by fine wing play by Ben Haim II
Biton nearly made amends for giving away the penalty when he saw his 20-yard effort brilliantly saved by Pol as Israel ended the half on top, with their overall 72 percent of possession from the first 45 minutes indicative of their overall control.
Israel had the first chance of the second half when Eran Zahavi scuffed his shot from Bibras Natkho’s corner, before Meshumar carved out an opportunity for himself, bringing out a smart stop from Pol, with Damari unable to fire in the rebound.
He came even closer to completing his hat-trick a minute later, but having done the hard work in producing a neat turn, pulled his shot agonisingly wide of the post.
As Israel continued to create chances, Zahavi should have made it three, when played in by Ben Haim II, he found himself clean through but was denied by another fine Pol stop.
Itay Shechter then came on for Gil Vermouth as Israel made their first change of the game, but it was the same story as Damari spurned another glorious chance to complete his treble and put the game beyond doubt, by horribly scooping the ball over the bar with just Pol to beat.
However, Damari did finally complete his hat-trick ten minutes from time when Natkho played in the striker, who turned well in the box before blasting the ball past the helpless Pol.
The hat-trick hero was then replaced by Tomer Hemed, but it was Eitan Tibi who then had a chance to make it four, but couldn’t keep his header on target from yet another corner.
Guttman’s side continued to create chances as the game entered its final stages, and were awarded a penalty in the final minute of stoppage time after Shechter was fouled by Pol. Hemed stepped up to convert with ease from which was the last kick of the game.
Elsewhere, in the group, group favourites Belgium were held to a 1-1 draw in Bosnia & Herzegovina, while Wales beat Cyprus 2-1.
Two wins from two, the Israelis next face Bosnia & Herzegovina on 16 November – the first of three consecutive home matches – while Belgium host Wales and Cyprus host Andorra.
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