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Player of the Weekend: Eran Zahavi (Israel)

On this weekend of international football, qualifying for the European Championships of 2020 kicked-off.

Amongst the teams to record a victory were the usual suspects, as France, Italy, England, Belgium and Germany all started their campaigns with a win. However, with extra places up for grabs at Euro 2020 compared to previous tournaments, it is likely that we will see some new nations competing – and Israel looks like a good shout for an outside bet.

Inspired by our Player of the Weekend, Eran Zahavi, Israel toppled Austria in a six-goal thriller, with the striker in question scoring an exceptional hat-trick. At the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, Zahavi, who plays his club football in China, took this game by the scruff of the neck and all of his goals were fine finishes. Most of all, his third and final strike flew in from distance…

The hat-trick gave Israel their first win over Austria in 20 years and meant that they have started the qualifying campaign with 4 points from a possible 6. Since joining UEFA in 1991, Israel has never qualified for a major tournament barring a World Cup in 1970. It is, of course, early days, but performances like this – and from their striker, Zahavi – will give them a good chance of reaching their first major tournament in 50 years.