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Israel pip Georgia to Under-19 finals debut

Israel will travel to their first UEFA Under-19 final tournament after topping elite round Group 3 with a 100% record, beating rivals Georgia 1-0 on the final day.

Sagiv Jehezkel (centre) rejoices after his decisive goal for Israel against Georgia
Sagiv Jehezkel (centre) rejoices after his decisive goal for Israel against Georgia ©UEFA.com

Israel have secured a spot in the 2014 UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals after edging Georgia 1-0 in the winner-takes-all meeting between the top two sides in elite round Group 3.

The teams had won both their fixtures heading into their decisive showdown in Nyon, and it was Israel who came out on top to qualify for their first UEFA U19 finals, having previously played at the former U18s in 1997, though they did win several Asian titles before their change of confederaton. A draw would have been enough to send Georgia through on goal difference, but Israel made the all-important breakthrough after 69 minutes, substitute Sagiv Jehezkel finding the net just four minutes after having come on.

That ensured a 100% record for Eliahu Ohana's side in the mini-tournament in Switzerland, his team having kicked off with a 4-0 defeat of Cyprus on Sunday. Shon Zalman Weissman gave them the lead on 36 minutes, before a second-half double from Michael Ohana and an added-time effort from substitute Dror Sagi rounded off a fine win.

Meanwhile, Georgia saw off the hosts 2-0, with Giorgi Papunashvili's late strike adding to a first-half goal from Dato Dartsimelia, Switzerland losing goalkeeper Pascal Albrecht to a red card on 79 minutes.

Georgia then demonstrated their attacking potential two days later, sweeping aside Cyprus 5-1. Mate Tsintsadze got the ball rolling in the 14th minute and Luka Kikabidze doubled the advantage five minutes later, before Luka Zarandia struck on the half-hour and Panagiotis Loizides turned the ball into his own net on the stroke of half-time. Kikabidze buried Georgia's fifth ten minutes after the restart, with Cyprus captain Antreas Panayiotou offering up a last-gasp consolation.

Israel were similarly successful in their second outing, overcoming Switzerland thanks to a Weissman effort with just five minutes gone. The hosts spurned a chance to level from the spot, however, skipper Shani Tarashaj failing to make the most after he had been brought down by Mohammed Abu El Hija.

Holding on for the result, Israel set up their final-day showdown with Georgia – and ultimately sealed their place in July's final tournament in Hungary. As for Switzerland, they ensured third place by downing Cyprus 2-0.

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