Croatia stays on the top and beats Israel 1-0 in Euro 2008 qualifying
October 13, 2007
ZAGREB, Croatia: Eduardo Da Silva scored the lone goal Saturday to lead Croatia over Israel 1-0 in European Championship qualifying. The 52nd-minute goal was Eduardo's 10th for Croatia in 10 qualifying matches. He scored a hat trick at Israel in an earlier qualifier.
Israel kept a tight defense early and Croatia played carefully with its top two strikers, Bosko Balaban and Mladen Petric, out with injuries. Ivica Olic nearly gave Croatia the lead in the 17th minute, but his shot from five meters (yards) hit Israel goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch in the legs. Israel focused mainly on defense. Yossi Benayoun had the team's best chance in the 77th, but Stipe Pletikosa easily defended the goal.
Croatia remains at the top of Group E with 26 points, three more than England.
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Vedran Corluka, Dario Simic, Robert Kovac, Josip Simunic, Luka Modric, Darijo Srna, Niko Kranjcar (Danijel Pranjic, 46), Jerko Leko, Eduardo Da Silva, Ivica Olic (Ivan Rakitic, 81).
Israel: Nir Davidovitch, Yigal Antebi, Shimon Gershon, Tal Ben Haim, Eyal Meshumar, Aviram Baruchyan (Omer Golan, 58), Gal Alberman, Tamir Cohen, Yossi Benayoun, Elyaniv Barda (Moshe Ohayon, 75), Pini Balili (Toto Tamuz, 67).
Croatia win over Israel would all but ensure progress
By Glenn Moore
Published: 13 October 2007
England will await news of Croatia's tie with Israel in Zagreb this evening with mixed feelings. A Croatian win would all but ensure their qualification leaving England with a straight fight against Russia, who do not play today, for the second spot from Group E. Yet it would also, assuming Croatia take a further point from their penultimate match in Macedonia, mean Slaven Bilic's team would arrive at Wembley on 21 November with nothing to play for.
Bilic is without several senior players, notably captain Niko Kovac, but the Israelis, who could revive their own faltering qualification hopes with a shock win, are much more affected by withdrawals. Coach Dror Kashtan has struggled to put together two full teams for practice. Yossi Benayoun, one of the few fit senior players, said: "Croatia are a better team than us, they are in excellent condition and there is no question that they are the favourites. We will do whatever we can to try to get a good result, but it won't be the end of the world if we don't win."
Bilic Ready To Qualify Early
Croatia coach Slaven Bilic admits that his boys will be smart and target three points rather than get carried away by their comfortable lead in clear of third placed Russia.
Croatia will practically qualify for the European Championships with a win against Israel, which will leave them eight points
Speaking to the press on the eve of the game, Bilic admitted had no problems admitting his team will not go gung ho over their lead and the home advantage.
"We will be aggressive, but clever and patient," he said.
""I can promise that we will be the dominant team and we will look to score from the first minute, like we always do.
"I promise a good match, where we will try to do everything that people in the stadium expect of us.
"If we do that, I hope everything will turn out well for us.
Israel themselves have a chance of qualifying, and could blow the group right open should they pick up a shock win in Zagreb.
"My players don't need extra motivation for this match, but if there is any, it's the importance of these three points," Bilic continued.
"We know how close we are and how far we have travelled together. But we have a difficult match and if we fail, everything will get complicated again."
He also praised his squad for the team effort, one that has seen England left in the lurch.
"People are not coming to see me or my assistants - they are coming to see the boys play," said the former Croatian international.
"We are not lying when we say that we play lovely, high-scoring football. People see that and they are coming to see us and cheer us on in every match, whatever the opposition. It's great. This national team finally has a cult following."
Croatia has the least yellow cards of all teams.