Israel succumbs to Scotland on penalties; Euro dream comes to an end

The Israel National Team fell to Scotland on penalties 5-3 following 120 minutes of goalless football at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland as the Blue & White were eliminated from 2020 European Championship qualifying.

Star striker Eran Zahavi missed the first penalty for Willi Ruttensteiner’s squad as the Scots made all of theirs to advance to the final where the Tartan Army will play Serbia for a ticket to the Euros this coming summer.

Head Coach Willi Ruttensteiner’s squad fought throughout the entire match but neither side was able to put the ball behind the opposing keeper until the penalty shootout. Liam Cooper had the best chance of the contest to score but his 120th minute header went off the woodwork sending the game to spot kicks.

John McGinn scored the first penalty for the hosts with a shot to the right of Israeli keeper Ofir Marciano who guessed correctly, but the ball squirted under him and into the goal.

Up next was Eran Zahavi who has been Israel’s star over the past two years scoring in bundles but his penalty was saved by David Marshall as Scotland made the rest of their kicks with Kenny McLean making the last to knock Israel out of contention for a place in the 2020 Euros.

Israel will now prepare to face the Czech Republic at home on Sunday and Slovakia away on Wednesday in Nations League play.

Coach Willi Ruttensteiner spoke about Zahavi’s devastating missed penalty, ”I told Eran that he has done so many great things for this team, so I wanted to help him in this situation. It was a bad moment for him but I’m proud of him and his personality.”

The bench boss continued, ”It was a great fight between two nations and at the end it was luck that decided between the two teams. We can be proud, the team gave everything. We played against a very strong Scotland side.”

The captain, Bibras Natcho also commented on Zahavi’s miscue, ”Eran is hurt but I wish we will have more players like him in the future and then we will be in the final tournament. We feel bad and hurt but we will have to handle it. Football is sometimes cruel. I’m disappointed and I’m not a kid anymore so I don’t know if I can get this close to the EURO. It hurts to go out like that.”

Ofir Marciano Israel’s ‘keeper who kept a clean sheet throughout the 120 minutes said, “It’s so cruel but it gives us a big hunger to reach this far and more next time. It’s very disappointing not to stop one penalty. I enjoyed that responsibility, but I couldn’t do it. This will be a tough night for us but after we will have to move on.”

Blue & White defender Eli Dasa also reflected on the game, ”I felt that we gave what we had tonight. Penalties can go either way and it went the wrong way. We tried not to concede, our goal didn’t come and that was that.”

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