He’s a once, twice, three times Is­raeli

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BYSIMONGRIVER

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.”

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Yoss he can: Yossi Be­nay­oun tucks away a record-break­ing third goal at An­field on Tues­day night

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