Ten minutes before the final whistle all hell broke loose, led by Guy Luzon. Even the referee stepped up to calm the Israeli coach, who raced onto the pitch and celebrated as if he was one of the players.
Luzon had been waiting for this moment for the past three days, since the 4-0 loss to Italy, and wasn’t about to react indifferently to Ofir Krieff’s winner. The 1-0 win over England was Israel’s swan song in Euro 2013. On one hand was the weak display against Norway, which was almost enough for a victory, and the humiliation against Italy. On the other hand, four points and third place in the group.
The players probably saw the full half of the glass when they celebrated, throwing Luzon in the air almost all the way to Belgium, where he will coach next season.
“I’m overjoyed to beat England after all the obituaries in the press. I knew that the more people would put me down, the tougher I would become,” a jubilant Luzon said after the game, and was quick to find the culprits: “It was only the press who never believed in us.”
Israel’s defensive game was much improved Tuesday. True, the English team was far from being impressive, but then again, Israeli standards are usually much lower. Boris Kleyman was impressive again between the posts, central defenders Omri Ben Harush and Ben Vehaba were excellent, and full backs Ofir Davidzada and Ofer Verta improved their game in the second half. Still, as an attacking force much was left to be desired, and despite Israeli dominance for most of the game, it took a shot from outside the box to win the game.
“I feel fantastic. Beating England is a great achievement,” Luzon said. “We took four points, scored three goals and finished third in our group, which is better than what England, Germany and Russia achieved in this tournament.
“I didn’t read the papers, nor watch TV, but I understood the general mood by reading the support I received through text messages,” Luzon continued. “If I had read or heard what was being said, I probably wouldn’t have been able to function altogether. I always get stronger after being put down, and that is what happened this time as well. We’re fifth in Europe. Please call me when that happens again. I did my very best. I apologize for being impertinent and losing to Italy. I’m sorry I didn’t achieve more.”
Captain Nir Biton said: “We were depressed after the loss to Italy, despite playing well for the first 40 minutes of that game. We knew that if every player gave 200 percent against England we could get a good result. I think we should be respected for what we achieved in this tournament.”