JERUSALEM (VINnews)— In a major sports upset, Israel’s youth soccer team stunned the world Saturday night by eliminating the Brazilian team in the quarterfinals of the FIFA U20 World Cup with an overtime score of 3:2.
Israel’s youth team, which reached the finals of the European soccer Championship last summer, made history when it turned a deficit into an amazing victory over the Brazilian team in the quarter-finals of the U20, the world soccer championship for teams under the age of 20 taking place in Argentina.
The Israeli team has already managed to turn a deficit into a victory in the last group game against Japan, which advanced them to the final sixteen teams. The team managed to score crucial goals in overtime against Japan and Uzbekistan, but was not expected to manage this against what was widely considered a leading team.
Israel completely dominated the game in the first half but failed to score, and went into halftime at 0:0.
The Brazilian team managed to score in the 56th minute, but the Israeli team came back after less than 4 minutes with a goal by Halaili, who scoring the winning goal in the last round.
A minute from the start of overtime, Israel again fell behind but again managed to come back with another goal only a minute later.
Israeli player Dor Turgeman, at the 108th minute, took the ball past two Brazilian defenders in a remarkable individual move to score a sensational goal.
In the second part of overtime, Israel’s youth team got a chance to finally decide the game with a penalty which was missed by captain Eli Mademon. Immediately afterwards, they were awarded another penalty, which was also missed, but Israel nevertheless ended the game 3:2, bringing Israel to the semifinals of the U20.
In the semi-finals, Israel’s youth team will meet the winner of the match between the USA and Uruguay. Either way, Israel is now thought to have a realistic chance at the U20 title.
Team coach Ofir Haim commented: “What we did was for the whole country. You saw today that we were the better team and we simply deserved to win. I wanted to die during the penalty kicks, but this team is so mentally strong and I knew we wouldn’t be worn out. We have a strong character and players who believe themselves. We are good and we know it.”
The country’s President Issac Herzog wrote on Twitter: “An amazing game by our youth soccer team – what a huge victory. You bring us a lot of respect and joy these days with a wonderful team game and a real sportsmanlike fighting spirit.”
Minister of Culture and Sports Miki Zohar (Likud) added: “Wow, simply wow. What an amazing team! What an inspiration to all our young people who love soccer. Proud of each of you! We are in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Go Israel!”
Moshe Shino Zuares, the chairman of the Israeli soccer association, said: “On such a sad day when we lost 3 soldiers who protected us all, the Israeli national team came up to compete for a ticket to the semi-finals against a soccer powerhouse like Brazil. Without feelings of inferiority, with tremendous fighting spirit, enormous talent, unity and leadership in blue and white, we all became even more proud of the Israeli team and the tears are for everything that was lost and gained on this day.”
“An entire country pushed the team, embraced it and drew from it inexhaustible amounts of hope for the future. I am full of appreciation for the professional team, the players, all the fans who made sure we felt at home even thousands of kilometers away. This journey is magical and it takes us to regions we dared to fantasize about and didn’t dare to say out loud The Israeli national team is in the semi-finals of the World Cup! It’s not a dream, it’s a reality,” Zoertz added.