Group C: Mexico make it perfect
© Foto-net

Before the tournament started, many labelled Group C the most difficult on offer. Who would argue? Portugal and Mexico came in with pedigree and squads running deep with top-class talent. Gambia were always going to be a tough nut to crack, while New Zealand - not to be taken lightly - arrived in Canada hoping to set the record straight.

How it finished
1. Mexico, 9 points
2. Gambia, 6 points
3. Portugal, 3 points
4. New Zealand, 0 point

What's next
Mexico - Congo, 12 July, Montreal
Chile - Portugal, 12 July, Edmonton
Austria - Gambia, 11 July Edmonton

What happened
Mexico: Outstanding performances from U-17 world champions Carlos Vela, Giovanni Dos Santos and Cesar Villaluz saw El Tri coast through a tricky looking group stage with a perfect nine points from three matches. In good shape heading into their first knockout game with Congo they are hoping to become U-20 world champions with a large number of the gang who brought home global glory at U-17 level.

Gambia: The Africans came out of nowhere and took Group B by storm. They pressed Mexico in the first half of their first game, only to lose out 3-0 after conceding three in the second. They picked up the pace against New Zealand with an Ousmane Jallow-inspired win and the Raja Casablanca hitman was on point again in their shock win over Portugal to pip second place.

Portugal: The two-time champions came into the tournament boasting a wide array of attacking threats - not least of them being Braga's Bruno Gama. With two goals in an opening-day win over New Zealand, he helped Portugal push Mexico all the way in a losing effort in their second contest. Unfortunately coach for Jose Couceiro, Gama is out of the finals after breaking a bone in his foot in the last group game against Gambia, which they went on to lose.

New Zealand: Things were never going to be easy for the lone Oceania reps and debutants. Having to send home their best player - Chris James - on the eve of the finals, the largely amateur outfit were thrown in at the deep end as their three losses from three games would seem to indicate. But having come to Canada with limited expectations, the experience will help them in the overall.

Moments to savour
• Two goals from Bruno Gama sent the huge contingent of Portuguese fans at the National Soccer Stadium in Toronto into fits of delight in their opening-day win against New Zealand.

• After Gambia's Ousmane Jallow scored Gambia's first-ever goal at a U-20 finals, in a 1-0 win over New Zealand, he ran to the corner flag and danced a wonderful native number with his team-mates.

• The combination of play of Mexican attacking trio Giovanni Dos Santos, Carlos Vela and Cesar Villaluz was a delight throughout the group stage. All three played together in the side that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru two years ago

• Jack Pelter's goal for New Zealand in the dying minutes of their third loss in a row (this one against Mexico) brought a bit of consolation. It made no difference to the end-result, but it was a moment to cherish in what was a big learning experience for the Oceania boys.

The numbers game
Mexico took a perfect nine points from three games, only conceded two goals and scored a magnificent seven in Group C.

The final word
Carlos Vela, Mexico striker: "We play with our feet, with great creativity and the skill we are known for, but we will also have to fight for the cause. This is a strength in the team that is often overlooked. Sure, we have talent but we have guts and spirit and the courage to fight for the shirt too.