Israel defeats South Korea 3-1 for 3rd place in U20 World Cup

Ofir Haim's Blue and Whites achieve one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of Israeli soccer: The magical journey of the Israeli national youth soccer team in the Under-20 World Cup ends with an impressive 3-1 victory and an indomitable place on the podium
Dennis Bihler|
(קרדיט: ILTV)

Although Israel’s fairy tale run for the U20 World Cup ended when it lost 1-0 to Uruguay in the semifinal, on Sunday the Blue and Whites secured 3rd place after beating South Korea, 3-1.
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Israel appeared first on the scoreboard when Hamza Shibli produced an accurate ball for Ran Binyamin who buried the ball in the back of the net with a spectacular half-volley.
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שחקן נבחרת הנוער של ישראל רן בנימין
שחקן נבחרת הנוער של ישראל רן בנימין
Ran Binyamin scores the first goal
(Photo: Reuters)
However, it took only 4 minutes and a penalty for South Korea's Seung-Won Lee to send Israeli goalie Ofek Melika the wrong way and score the equalizer.
Ofir Haim's men kept the pressure on the South Koreans in the 2nd leg and a goal was in the air. Anan Khalaili delivered another sensational Israeli cross as Omer Senior found some space inside the box and fired the ball mid-air to score the 2nd goal for Israel.
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סניור חוגג
סניור חוגג
Israeli players celebrate
(Photo: AP Photo)
Ten minutes later, Anan Khalaili swooped on a loose ball inside the box and beat the South Korean goalkeeper with a shot to the bottom left corner, as he nailed Israel's 3rd goal, making it 3:1 and the end result of the match.
With the victory, Israel finishes the tournament in Argentina with a bronze medal. And what's amazing is that Israel accomplished this feat without five of its key players, who were controversially omitted from the squad in favor of the national youth team's preparations for the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
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אופיר חיים
אופיר חיים
Coach Ofir Haim celebrates Israel's bronze medal
(Photo: AP )
But the substitutes did the job, and Israel – who had only five players on the bench for Sunday night's match – achieved a remarkable accomplishment, perhaps even the greatest in the history of Israeli football, in its first-ever appearance in the U20 World Cup.
Shortly after the match, President Isaac Herzog congratulated the players and tweeted: "Congratulations to the Israeli national youth soccer team on their historic achievement – third place in the World Cup! You have completed a wonderful and exciting journey in the U20 World Cup, and we are all proud of you."
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