Israel’s run to the Under-20 World Cup final came to an end as the blue-and-white fell to Uruguay 1-0 in Argentina.
Anderson Duarte scored the lone goal of the game in the second half to punch Uruguay’s ticket to the championship match as Israel will play in the third place game on Sunday against the loser of the second semifinal between Italy and South Korea.
The Israel Under-20 team met Uruguay for a ticket to the World Cup Finals at the Estadio Único Diego Armando Maradona in La Plata as head coach Ofir Haim’s squad looked to take yet another step towards immortality.
The last time the two nations have played a number of international friendlies over the years, but the last time they faced one another in an official FIFA match was at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico when the Israeli squad fell 2-0.
Israel shocked the football-world
The blue-and-white had already stunned the footballing community world wide by making it to the semifinals of the competition after defeating Brazil 3-2 as they looked to head towards the title match.
Israel had advanced to the contest with “La Celeste” by winning three straight games against Japan, Uzbekistan and tournament favorites Brazil after having lost to Colombia and drawn with Senegal. Uruguay lost one game as well against England while winning all of their other four clashes including a 2-0 victory over the United States to ease into the semifinals.
Uruguay’s Sebastian Boselli had the game’s first opportunity but Israel keeper Tomer Tzarfati made the easy save in the 10th minute, while Israel’s Tay Abed’s attempt went over the bar soon thereafter. Abed came slicing in in the left side in the 24th minute but his sharp shot was saved by an alert Uruguay keeper Randall Rodriguez, as Anderson Duarte did the exact same thing with the blue-and-white shot stopper coming up big as the half ended goalless.
Uruguay came out of the break putting all kinds of pressure on Israel which paid off in the 61st minute as a dangerous Anderson Duarte from in close found the back of the goal off a rebound to take a 1-0 lead. La Celeste continued to press for a second marker and stymied Israel time and time again as chances were few and far between over the final half which saw the blue-and-white succumb to a superior Uruguay squad on this day.
תודה! ריגשתם מדינה שלמה! שחקני הנבחרת המדהימה שכל כולה ישראל היפה - אתם משקפים את הישראליות הווינרית, המוכשרת, המגוונת והמלוכדת. לימדתם אותנו שיעור בכוח רצון, נחישות, אומץ והכי חשוב - בהגשמת חלומות. הרחבתם לנו את הלב. אנחנו גאים בכם! pic.twitter.com/1mFb0B9AAO— יצחק הרצוג Isaac Herzog (@Isaac_Herzog) June 8, 2023
Despite the loss, President Isaac Herzog thanked the team for moving the entire country with their performance throughout the tournament. "The players of the amazing team, all of whom are the beautiful Israel - you the taltented, diverse and cohesive Israeli winning mentality. You taught us a lesson in willpower, determination, courage and most importantly - in making dreams come true. You widened our hearts. We are proud of you!"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratuled the team on their success in a call with head coach Ofir Haim. "First of all, huge congratulations. You have brought the state of Israel honor. And everyone of you should be blessed for that and I want to congratulate and strengthen you for the next game. Make no mistake, you have done something here that is simply hasn't been done in Israeli football. Good job!"
Netanyahu added that he is looking forward to welcoming the team back in Israel after the tournament.