THE DAY REPLAYED – Brazil and Mexico finally hit their stride in their second matches at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011. Recovering from slow starts in their groups, they sauntered to respective 3-0 victories over Austria and Korea DPR, in games notable for some classy goals. A Seleçãozinha delighted the fans in Barranquilla with two fine team moves orchestrated by Oscar and Philippe Coutinho, the first ending in a goal for Henrique and the second rounded off by Willian Jose. The impressive Brazilians now stand on the brink of the Round of 16.
Mexico revived their hopes of going through by bouncing back from an opening-day defeat by Argentina to sweep the North Koreans aside. Their victory was the first by a CONCACAF side in the competition. Elsewhere, La Albiceleste missed out on the chance to go through a game early when they were held to a goalless draw by England, who have now gone 12 FIFA U-20 World Cup matches without a win. The English do have two points to their name, however, and victory over the Mexicans in their final game will see them through to the last 16.
And in the day’s other game, Egypt continued their excellent start to the tournament by edging out Panama to add three points to the one they collected against Brazil. The win was the Egyptians’ tenth at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, putting them third on the all-time African list behind Nigeria with 15 and Ghana with 20.
Goal of the day
Taufic Guarch 54’, Mexico-Korea DPR
Mexico were already 1-0 up, albeit through a Ri Yong-Chol own-goal, when they fashioned a sumptuous strike of their own, Guarch’s powerful drive from 20 yards out just evading the despairing dive of Om Jin-Song to nestle in the back of the net.
Injuries spoil Brazil’s day
The shine was taken off Brazil’s handsome win over Austria by three worrying injuries that will have coach Ney Franco fretting. Alex Sandro was the first man to limp off after only 12 minutes, to be followed by Henrique, who gave an inspired goalscoring performance, midway through the second half. Casemiro then completed an unwanted triple when he left the field in tears following a heavy challenge.
No stopping high-flying Mexico
The appearance high in the Medellin sky of planes, helicopters and even an airship prior to Mexico’s game with Korea DPR provided a taste of things to come. The North Korean defenders were soon looking to the heavens as the Mexican served up a festival of long-range shooting, firing in 26 shots during the course of the game, two of which found their way into the back of the net, with another striking the crossbar.
Not so easy for Egypt
Egypt coach El Sayed Diaa was not a happy man as his side laboured in the first half of their game with Panama. As well as berating his players loudly from the touchline and waving his arms around, the Egyptian tactician also took his frustration out on some bottles of water by the side of the pitch, kicking them angrily. His half-time team-talk did the trick, however, with Ahmed Hegazi scoring the only goal of the game with 23 minutes remaining. Relieved at satisfying their demanding coach, they reprised a goal celebration made famous by their seniors in the national team, kneeling down on the ground to give their thanks.
Villains and a hero
The Medellin crowd were in no mood to get behind Walter Perazzo’s Argentina, booing them for long periods of their match against England. There were cheers in Barranquilla, though, when Brazil’s Danilo sportingly kicked the ball out of play to allow an injured Austrian rival to receive treatment, a gesture that was loudly applauded by the fans and the opposing players.
200 - The landmark number of FIFA U-20 World Cup goals Brazil tallied when Henrique struck their first in the defeat of Austria. Far and away the most prolific team in the history of the competition, A Seleçãozinha have taken 91 games to reach that figure, which equates to an average of 2.21 goals per match. Their 100th goal in the competition came at Qatar 1995 and was scored in the quarter-final win over Japan by Caio Ribeiro, who has since become a commentator.
Bogota will come to a standstill again on Tuesday when Colombia take on Mali in their second game. Still buoyant after the 4-1 demolition of France, Los Cafeteros will almost certainly go through if they can beat the Africans. Korea Republic take on the French in the other game in Group A, also in the Colombian capital, while Cali is the venue for the day’s matches in a tight Group B, with Uruguay doing battle with New Zealand and Portugal facing off with Cameroon.