Zahavi hat-trick helps Israel surprise Austria in Euro qualifiers

Israel wins 4-2 in Haifa to record first victory over opponents in 20 years and go second in Group G

Israel's midfielder Eran Zahavi celebrates after scoring his hat trick during the Euro 2020 Group G football qualification match between Israel and Austria at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa on March 24, 2019. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)

Israel scored a surprise win over Austria on Sunday in its campaign to qualify for the Euro 2020 tournament thanks to a hat-trick from Eran Zahavi, in a game hailed as one of the best from the national team in recent years.

Israel made it four points from their opening two qualifiers, putting them in second place in Group G behind Poland. It was a poignant win for Israeli coach Andreas Herzog, who is Austrian. It was Israel’s first victory over Austria in 20 years.

Austria opened the scoring in the game in Haifa with a goal from Marko Arnautović, who plays for West Ham in the English Premier League.

But Zahavi, the star of Chinese club Guangzhou R&F, equalized in the 34th minute with a headed goal.

He struck again with his head just before half time, before completing his hat-trick in the 54th minute with a left-foot strike. Each side scored one more and the game ended 4-2 to Israel.

Austria is now level with Latvia at the bottom of the group with no points from its opening two games.

North Macedonia is level with Israel on four points after drawing 1-1 with Slovenia.

Israel has never qualified for the Euro Cup tournament. In 2016, it went a lackluster 4-5-1 and failed to advance past the qualifying stage.

Agencies contributed to this report

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