Magical World Cup Cinderella run ends after Israel succumbs to Uruguay in semi-finals

Ofir Haim's men certainly did not flatter to deceive but ended up losing to a 61st-minute Anderson Duarte goal in a physical, high-intensity encounter; Israel will play for third place on Sunday against either South Korea or Italy

Ilan Levinsohn|
Israel's under-20 national soccer team was eliminated in the FIFA U20 World Cup semi-finals after losing 1-0 to a formidable Uruguay side in a physical and high-intensity matchup, ending a dream run that wowed soccer fans and media in Israel and the world over.
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The young Blue and Whites certainly did not flatter to deceive but ended up losing to a 61st-minute Anderson Duarte goal.
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דור תורג'מן
דור תורג'מן
Israeli striker Dor Turgeman
(Photo: Luis ROBAYO / AFP)
The Israelis' best chance of the game came in the 85th minute when Omer Senior blazed down the pitch and found himself in a comfortable one-on-one position against Randall Rodriguez in the Uruguayan goal. However, just as Senior lined up for a shot, the rival shot-stopper boldly launched himself to collect the ball out of the Hapoel Tel Aviv striker's feet.
Coach Ofir Haim said in a post-match interview: "I am very disappointed, we believed we can do this. I lost tonight, but I am happy. We will play for third place, that's amazing. Congratulations to Uruguay for the victory," he concluded, promising to field players who did not get much game time thus far.
Israel will play for third place on Sunday against the losing side of the second semi-final between South Korea and Italy.

A dream run nobody expected

Fans at home and abroad had low expectations when the Israeli team arrived in Argentina for the tournament last month. A lackluster performance in the opening game of the group stages, where they lost to Colombia 2-1, only reinforced those doubts.
Israel then drew 1-all against Senegal in the second match, and its hopes of advancing to the knockout stages seemed slim.
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רוי נאוי חוגג
רוי נאוי חוגג
Roy Nawi celebrates equalizer against Japan
(Photo: Larrovere / AFP)
In the third and final group stage match, the Blue and Whites faced tough opposition from a strong Japanese side. Isa Sakamoto put Japan 1-0 up just before halftime, and Israel's chances of advancing were looking grim. A Ran Binyamin red card in the 68th minute certainly did not help, as Israel went one man down.
However, Ofir Haim's men managed to mount a heroic comeback and score twice, including one goal at the death, to advance to the next stage.
In the round of 16, the Israelis secured another victory with a stoppage-time goal from Anan Khalaili against Uzbekistan, keeping their dream alive.
The quarter-finals saw Israel faced with their toughest challenge yet: Brazil. Despite being clear underdogs, the Israeli team held their own against the Brazilian opponents and came back from behind twice before Israeli star striker Dor Turgeman scored an exquisite extra-time goal with a Maradona-like run to clinch the victory.
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Dor Turgeman dedicates his winning goal against Brazil to the victims of last week's terror attack on the Egypt border
(Photo: AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
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