THE DAY REPLAYED - The Round of 16 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 came to an exciting conclusion on Thursday with a brace of big wins, the first penalty shootout of the competition and a dramatic extra-time conclusion in one of the evening games. When the dust settled, Spain, Nigeria, Korea Republic and Uruguay had all advanced to join Colombia, Turkey, Switzerland and Italy in the last eight.
Home favourites Nigeria made short work of New Zealand, racking up the second-biggest win the history of the competition to continue their impressive run. Spain kept pace with the Golden Eaglets when they brushed off the challenge of Burkina Faso thanks to a majestic Sergi Roberto hat-trick.
It proved to be a deflating day for the CONCACAF zone's last remaining representatives Mexico, who led for most of the game against Korea Republic before conceding an injury-time equaliser. The Mexicans paid dearly for failing to close the match out, exiting the tournament on penalties as the Asian challengers sneaked in the quarter-finals for the first time in 22 years.
Goal of the day
Edafe Egbedu 28, Nigeria-New Zealand
Powerful and unstoppable. Those words apply not just to Egbedu's first-half thunderbolt, which put his side 3-0 up against the Kiwis, but also to the performance of the tournament hosts, who overwhelmed the New Zealanders in Abuja.
Flag day for Spain
Even though the heat in Kano was not quite as suffocating as on previous days, the Spain and Burkina Faso players were still grateful when a curious second-half incident allowed them to take an unexpected break during their Round-of-16 tie. Signalling offside against one of the African team's forwards, assistant referee Jan-Hendrik Hintz of New Zealand was surprised to see his flag fall to pieces as he held it aloft. Taking the opportunity for a well-earned breather while the unfortunate official was waiting for a replacement, the players rested their legs and talked tactics before resuming the game. The Spaniards eventually ran out comfortable winners to stretch their unbeaten run to 11 games.
Learning lessons the hard way
As the pundits like to remind us, games last for 90 minutes, underlining the importance of players maintaining their concentration levels right to the final whistle. Mexico have good cause to ponder that old maxim after letting Korea Republic snatch an equaliser two minutes into injury time in their encounter in Bauchi, the prelude to an agonising shootout defeat.
The call of the vuvuzela
The vuvuzelas were blaring as Nigeria put New Zealand to the sword with an emphatic 5-0 win in front of their ecstatic fans. John Obuh's young hopefuls were three goals to the good inside 28 minutes, all but sealing the plucky Kiwis' first defeat of the tournament. Sani Emmanuel kept the noise levels up by jumping off the bench to further his reputation as a supersub with two well-taken goals.
Anything you can do
Calabar's resident ball-juggler James Sunday Mathew was back in action at half-time in the game between Uruguay and Iran. As he entertained the fans with his dazzling array of tricks, up walked one of the Iranian substitutes to challenge him to a ball-skills contest. To the delight of the crowd, both men turned on the trickery, though it was James who came off second-best on this occasion. Appreciating their efforts, the fans gave both tricksters a well-deserved ovation.
398 - The number of minutes Iran had gone without conceding at the competition until Gallegos' opening goal for Uruguay in today's game. Just for good measure, the Danubio midfielder added a second at the end of extra time to complete a miserable day for the departing Iranians.
The quarter-final schedule