Another improbable win for Israel in U20 World Cup

(JNS) — Israel scored a second consecutive improbable win at the Under-20 FIFA World Cup in Argentina on May 30, punching its ticket to the quarter-finals.

Anan Khalaili fired home a goal in the 97th minute to propel Israel to a 1-0 victory over Uzbekistan and set up a showdown with the winner of Wednesday’s match between Brazil and Tunisia.

“I’m proud of my players, this was a tough game, a cup championship,” said coach Ofir Haim. “We didn’t have good production, we were not smart, but we showed a lot of character. We were better than them. It wasn’t a great game, but there was a ton of fight and heart.”

The victory came after Israel made soccer history on Saturday night with a late rally while a man down to beat Japan 2-1.

It was Israel’s first-ever win at any FIFA World Cup, having tied two games and lost the other in its only previous appearance in any such competition, the main World Cup event in 1970.

After losing its first Under-20 game 2-1 to Colombia and then drawing 1-1 with Senegal, Israel needed to beat Japan to move into the round of 16.

Argentina had not initially been slated to host the tournament, but it was moved there after FIFA took it away from Indonesia following objections by the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to Israel’s participation.