TEL AVIV (Oct. 14)
The champagne was chilled and waiting in Paris on Wednesday night, but it was not the French who drank it.
It was the Israeli national soccer team and its fans who toasted each other to mark their surprise 3-2 upset win over the French national team, casting a deep shadow over French hopes of taking part in the World Soccer Cup finals next year.
Despite its victory in Paris, Israel is already out of the running, having shown disappointing losses in previous qualifying games.
The French maintained their confidence up to halftime, when the score was 2-1 in their favor.
But 7 minutes before the end of the match at the prestigious Parc des Princes, Israel added another equalizing goal, with the final winning goal coming only 1 minute before the final whistle. The sudden Israeli win left the local team stunned, while the visitors were surprised and jubilant.
It was the first time in four years that the French national team lost an international match on its own grounds.
But the French had already been prepped. On Oct. 8, responding to an invitation from the Variety Club of France to the “State of Palestine,” the Palestine Liberation Organization fielded a soccer team from the West Bank against a team of famous French veteran players.