Israel’s Embassy football team suffered late heartbreak after it was beaten 6-4 in the final of the Embassy World Cup.
Taking on Bolivia in the showpiece match, which was watched by 50 spectators from both embassies, Israel went into the match – a repeat of the 2016 final – as underdogs, given the South American side had never lost a match in the tournament.
Having begun the competition in May and beaten Russia, Italy, Senegal and Afghanistan – who they played despite having no diplomatic relations, Israel took an early 2-0 lead through goals from top scorer Jono Gaon and Josh Green.
An injury to Gaon weakened Israel’s threat, and their lead was halved on the stroke of half-time, a shot finding the bottom corner past Nick Grosse.
Bolivia piled on the pressure in the second half as the Israeli defence worked tirelessly to block shots, with Grosse forced into producing some outstanding saves. They did draw level ten minutes into the second half, before going ahead for the first time shortly afterwards.
Israel then turned up the heat, scoring two stunning goals through David Esterkin and Udi Amiel, as they went 4-3 ahead with just seven minutes remaining. However, Bolivia piled everyone forward and with the Israelis tiring two shots from distance broke Israeli hearts. They wrapped up the scoring through a headed own goal to seal Israel’s defeat, despite them putting in a brave performance.
Manager Matt Keston said: ‘I’m very proud of the team for the heart they showed and whilst disappointed with second place, for Israel to have got to the final in the first place was an incredible feat. We’ve learnt a lot from this tournament and Israel will be back next year and this time we will bring it home.”
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