England ended Israel’s hopes of reaching the final of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship on Wednesday with a 3-0 semifinal win at Adjarabet Arena in the Georgian port city of Batumi.
The Young Lions will next face Spain in Saturday’s title match after La Rojita defeated Ukraine 5-1 in its semifinal match at Steaua Stadium in the Romanian capital of Bucharest.
Strikes by Morgan Gibbs-White (42nd minute), Cole Palmer (63rd minute) and Cameron Archer (90th minute) propelled the English side to their first U21 final since 2009. The Israeli side mustered only one shot on goal out of 11 tries during the match.
The loss ended another remarkable run at a major tournament by the Israeli team, coming after a stunning victory over powerhouse Brazil in the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina before losing to Uruguay in the final four. The Israelis finished the tournament in third place with a consolation win against South Korea.
Israel beat Georgia in a penalty shootout on Saturday night to advance to the semifinals. The Israeli squad won 4-3 in penalties following a goalless contest.
Following the win over Georgia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the team’s “incredible achievement” and President Isaac Herzog praised the team’s “determination and willpower,” adding, “We’re behind you.”
Israel’s youth soccer team had already qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics before its semifinal match, after England beat Portugal on Sunday. The top three teams from the tournament qualify for the next Olympic Games.
England is ineligible to qualify directly for the Olympics as it forms a part of Britain, which is represented at the Games by a team also comprising players from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Accordingly, the other three semifinalists at the Under-21 Euros will head to Paris next year.