He’s a once, twice, three times Israeli
CHAMPIONSLEAGUELiverpool’s Yossi Benayoun made footballing history on Tuesday night when he became the first Israeli to score a hat-trick in Europe’s premier club competition in the 8-0 drubbing of Besiktas at Anfield.
In a game the Merseysiders could not afford to lose, the Israeli national team captain put in an inspirational display. He scored three times in 24 minutes to become the first player to score three in the competition this season.
“It was a special night for me,” said Benayoun, “but it was a special night for everyone. It was the kind of game I’ll keep on DVD and one day show to my grandchildren. I still would not say it was the best game of my career. It was only one of the best. I played better in Israel’s 2006 World Cup qualifiers and I had better games when I played in Spain. But this was one of my most memorable games because I scored my first-ever Champions League goal. I certainly did not expect that it would be so quickly followed by two more.
The midfielder, who had only been a bit-part player so far this season until an injury to Jermaine Pennant, also set up two of the last three goals, scored by Ryan Babel and Peter Crouch.
Benayoun said: “People will always remember this game and my part in it. It was a little bit of history. I must keep on working hard if I want to carry on enjoying such moments. We still have to win two more games if we want to progress but this will give us a lot of confidence.”
Crouch said: “Yossi is a fantastic player and was involved in just about everything. He had a bit of space out there and if you give him that he will kill you.”
For Benayoun, 27, it was his first hattrick since 1999 when, as a 19-year-old, he had a field day in a Euro 2000 qualifier against San Marino in a match that, by coincidence, Israel won 8-0.
When asked if he had saved a goal for Israel’s forthcoming Euro 2008 clash against Russia, where only a draw or victory for Israel would keep England’s qualification hopes alive, he said: “I will do my best.”
Yoss he can: Yossi Benayoun tucks away a record-breaking third goal at Anfield on Tuesday night