Israel opened up the Under-20 World Cup in Argentina with a dramatic 2-1 defeat to Colombia late Sunday night as a 90th-minute marker by Gustavo Puerta handed La Tricolor the three points.
Next up for Ofir Haim’s squad will be a date with Senegal on Wednesday who played against Japan in their first match of the tournament.
The young blue-and-white stood toe-to-toe with the South American side and took a 1-0 lead early in the second half via a Dor Turgeman penalty.
In the 57th minute, Ariel Lugassi sent the ball to Roy Revivo who was tripped up in the Colombia box, giving the Maccabi Tel Aviv striker the opportunity to put Israel on the board which he promptly did by slotting the ball into the right-hand corner of the goal for a 1-0 advantage.
However, Ilay Feingold’s handball in the area gave Colombia a 74th-minute spot kick that Oscar Cortes put behind Israel’s keeper Tomer Zarfati to even up the contest at 1-1.
As the game looked to be heading to a draw and a split of the points, Puerta broke free, went by a pair of blue-and-white defenders and took a left-footed strike that went into the right corner of the goal to hand Colombia the win and a heartbreaking loss for Israel.
Israel's Ofer Haim: 'We were the better team'
“It’s very disappointing,” Haim said following the defeat. “We played against an excellent national team with very talented players. We were able to keep up with them and we were the better team. We missed a great chance to score when we were leading. I am very proud of the guys and the entire team. We haven’t yet said the last word.
“After we scored we played back which is natural but soccer is all about momentum and their keeper made a number of incredible saves. We showed that we can play this sport in Israel and now we have to turn our sights to Senegal.”