KEIR RADNEDGE in JERUSALEM: Israel manager Guy Luzon owned up to bitter/sweet emotions after concluding his three-year stint with a victory over England.
The hosts of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final were eliminated despite the 1-0 win in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium because of their earlier failures to beat Norway and Italy.
The other concluding Group A game ended in a 1-1 draw between Norway and Italy who topped the table with seven points followed the Norwegians on five, Israel on three and England none.
Luzon is now heading north-west to Belgium to take over at Standard Liege where he may be tempted to lure midfielders Mir Biton and Orif Krieff. Skipper Biton has been solid throughout the finals and Krieff was voted man of the match after striking the winning goal with 10 minutes left.
Luzon celebrated ecstatically at the goal and then dashed on the pitch at the final whistle to embrace Beitar’s Krieff, playing in his home stadium.
“It is a fantastic result,” said Luzon afterwards. “We are very proud of the level we played and how we played and I’m very satisfied about our quality and my players. It’s fantastic.”
Israel might even have progressed from the group stage for the first time had they not conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to the 10 men of Norway in their opening 2-2 draw.
Luzon acknowledged it without rancour.
He said: “If we had won with Norway we will be in the semi-finals but we are not disappointed. We know our level and I’m very proud of my players and I love them.
“England have a lot of quality players and a lot of talent but Israel were united and because of that reason we could beat them.
“It’s a great honour for us to beat England in this tournament. It’s fantastic for our country, for our fans, for the atmosphere in the country and we are very proud of it.
“Being manager has been a fantastic experience. I have learned a lot in these three years. I’m very sad to be leaving my team and my players. I love them a lot and so this is also very sad for me.”