(JNS) Israel scored a second consecutive improbable win at the Under-20 FIFA World Cup in Argentina on Tuesday night, punching its ticket to the quarter-finals for the first time in the country's history.
18-year-old Anan Khalaili, who currently plays for Maccabi Haifa's Under-19 team fired home a goal against Uzbekistan in the 97th minute to propel Israel to a 1-0 victory 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.
Saturday's match 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.
This year's Under-20 World Cup has been marred by controversy after the original host Indonesia was removed from staging the 24-team tournament after refusing to allow Israel to participate.