Omer Golan is a household name in England today. With a marvelous finish to a memorable final 5 minutes, Golan's goal lifted Israel over Russia Saturday, 2-1, and put England in position to qualify for Euro 2008 with just a tie Wednesday against Croatia.
That's a good thing. I'm all for dynasties in pro sports. I love it when there's a team to beat. I love it when a tournament is loaded with teams that should be there and the minnows are left in the ocean where they belong. I want the New England Patriots to go 16-0; I love it when the Steelers and 49ers win two or three Super Bowls in a row. And England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal better be in Euro 2008, or the tournament just isn't right.
Cheers to Omer Golan and a thoroughly entertaining Israel team that didn't bow to rude Hiddink and his Ruskies, who expected to swarm through Tel Aviv and waltz into Euro. It wasn't easy, Russia didn't lay down and had a ball ricochet off the post seconds before Golan's goal (look closely, it would have been an own-goal).
Golan started the play that resulted in the game-winner with a tremendous defensive tackle in the Russian end. Golan had the sense to get up, stay onside, and bury the give-and-go winner. Minutes later, Israel should have made it 3-1 on an awesome half-volley in the box, but was denied.
In the end, Russia was denied, England inched closer to Euro, and all is right with the tournament.
Quickly, here's a look at the qualifiers.