Under-20 W/Cup: Israel Stun Brazil 3-2, Qualify For Semi-Final

On Saturday, Israel stunned Brazil 3-2 in extra time to advance to the semi-finals of the Under-20 World Cup. This victory was one of the most significant victories in Israel's long and illustrious football history.

In the midst of a hotly contested match, Israel twice rallied to take the lead, but it was Dor Turgeman's outstanding solo goal that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.In the semifinals, Israel will play either Uruguay or the United States, depending on who advances.
At the Bicentenario stadium, the first half ended with no goals being scored. In the 56th minute, Brazil, the tournament's five-time defending champions, finally broke through with a goal thanks to a magnificent first-time left-foot shot by Marcos Leonardo.

The goal was scored by Anan Khalaili, who rose high at the back post to direct a header from a precise El Yam Kancepolski cross into the back of the net in the 60th minute, much to the pleasure of the predominantly pro-Israel crowd in the bleachers.
But barely 20 seconds into extra time, Israel's dreams were dashed as Andrey Santos assisted Matheus Nascimento in retaking the lead for Brazil. This effectively ended Israel's chances of winning.

However, just two minutes later, Hamza Shibli equalized the score by tapping in a low ball that was sent by Ilay Feingold to the back post. This brought the score to 2-2.

Near the end of the first period of extra time, Turgeman scored the game-winning goal by collecting the ball on the outskirts of the box, dribbling deftly past two players, and then shooting the ball past Kaique Pereira.

Israel's Ilay Madmon and Ahmad Ibrahim both missed their penalties in the second session of extra time, but Ofir Haim's team was still able to hold on for the win.

"When I was a kid, I used to play a lot in the neighborhood, outside my house, and I used to always try to pull off things like that, so I think the goal came from there," said Turgeman. "I think the goal came from there because I was always trying to pull off things like that."
"I'm pretty excited about it, and I'm proud of myself. I'm very emotional. I'm overjoyed to know that I've brought joy to every single Israeli. This is extremely significant for my nation. It's unbelievable."

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Tay Abed claimed that Brazil understood the odds were stacked against them even though they were favored by many commentators to continue their outstanding record in this tournament. Many pundits believed that Brazil would continue to do well in this tournament.

"We knew going into the game that nobody was giving us a chance, but we believed in ourselves and gave it our best shot." Brazil has a terrific team, easily ranking as one of the best in this competition. But we went out there to play with our hearts, to play with all of our passion," he explained.

Abded reported that the Israeli squad now believed that they may win the competition.

"We're taking it step by step," stated Abed. "We are now competing in the semi-final round. "If we keep playing with the same amount of passion and heart that we have been, we have a chance," he remarked.

Israel is the first team to compete in their inaugural FIFA U20 W/Cup and advance all the way to the semifinals since Senegal in 2015.

The senior Israeli national team has only ever qualified for the World Cup finals once, and they were eliminated in the group stage of the World Cup that was held in Mexico in 1970.

Jenny Young

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