Da Silva's hat-trick stuns Israel to send Croatia top of group

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The Independent Football

Eduardo da Silva scored a hat-trick yesterday as Croatia defeated Israel 4-3 to top Group E ­ England's group ­ in a thrilling European Championship qualifier.

Darijo Srna also netted with a penalty for Croatia, while Roberto Colautti scored twice and West Ham midfielder Yossi Benayoun netted the other for Israel.

Croatia now have 10 points, two more than Russia, who won 2-0 in Macedonia yesterday, and three more than England, Israel and Macedonia.

Israel went ahead in the eighth minute after a mistake in the Croatian defence allowed Colautti to tap into an open net.

Croatia equalised in the 35th minute when a backpass by Tomer Ben Yosef was underhit and goalkeeper Dudu Awat fouled Mladen Petric in the area. Srna scored from the ensuing penalty. Four minutes later, Niko Kranjcar put the ball through to Da Silva and he beat one defender before sliding it past Awat. Da Silva scored again in the 54th minute while lying on the ground after Awat had blocked his initial header.

Israel pulled a goal back in the 68th minute when Adoram Keise appeared to control a cross by Amit Ben Shushan with his arm. He passed the ball back and Benayoun volleyed home.

Da Silva made it 4-2 in the 72nd minute after eluding a defender and shooting low past Awat. Near the end, Colautti raced through a large gap in the Croatian defence to score but it was only a consolation.