THE DAY REPLAYED - Argentina and Brazil recorded seemingly comfortable victories on Thursday to advance to the Round of 16 of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011. That said, their respective victims, Korea DPR and Panama, both put up a fight before bowing to the superior firepower of their illustrious opponents.
La Albiceleste’s 3-0 defeat of the North Koreans was sealed by two late goals, with the South Americans struggling to find their rhythm in a disjointed first-half performance. Even so, the Argentinians, who have yet to concede a goal, topped Group F comfortably ahead of Mexico, who drew 0-0 with England to take second place and leave the third-placed English waiting on developments elsewhere to see if they go through as one of the best third-placed sides.
The Brazilians, meanwhile, put four past Los Canaleros, though it took them 40 minutes to open their account en route to a win that gave them top spot in Group E. Philippe Coutinho scored twice for the four-time FIFA U-20 World Cup winners, who have now reached the knockout phase in every one of their 17 appearances in the competition.
While A Seleçãozinha wait to find out whether they will face Nigeria or Saudi Arabia in the next round, the Argentinians already know that they will be taking on Egypt. The north Africans finished runners-up to Brazil after demolishing Austria 4-0, equalling the record win by an African side over European opposition in the tournament. The Egyptians’ hero of the hour was Mohamed Ibrahim, who scored a hat-trick, the first by an African player in FIFA U-20 World Cup history.
Goal of the day
Argentina-Korea DPR, Adrian Cirigliano 90
Argentina were 2-0 up and coasting when, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Cirigliano picked up possession on the edge of the area. Advancing into the box, he sold a Korean defender a dummy before curling the ball past keeper Om Jin-Song and into the corner of the net.
Franco rings the changes
Though Brazil won big to secure first place in their section, coach Ney Franco has one or two tactical issues to ponder before their last-16 tie. Unsatisfied with his team’s inability to close down their Panamanian opponents, Franco made two substitutions in the opening 40 minutes. The reshuffle at least paid instant dividends, with the Brazilians scoring twice just before half-time and racking up 28 shots on goal in all, 11 of them on target and three hitting the woodwork.
Relief for Ferreyra
Goalless in his first two outings, Argentina striker Facundo Ferreyra made an inauspicious start to the final group game against the North Koreans. Jeered after treading on the ball in a counter-attack, he gave vent to his frustrations after putting his side ahead from close range, blasting the ball back into the net not once, not twice, but three times. That was not the end of his woes, however, with two more presentable chances going begging in the second half.
Goal in short supply in Cartagena
Mexico and England failed to find the target in their decisive Group F meeting, though there was nothing strange about that, given that the four games between the two sides in the competition’s history have yielded a mere two goals. The best chances fell to Taufic Guarch, who had a penalty saved by Jack Butland, and Callum McManaman, whose sweetly struck volley produced a fine stop from Jose Rodriguez.
0 - The number of goals scored and conceded in the group phase by England, the first side ever to play out three goalless draws in a FIFA competition. The English have now gone 13 FIFA U-20 World Cup matches without a win, equalling the tournament record, set by Mexico.
Two more sections reach their conclusion on Friday. In Group A the already qualified Colombia play Korea Republic, while France will be out to continue their improvement against bottom-placed Mali. In Group B, meanwhile, leaders Portugal face New Zealand and third-placed Uruguay go in search of some much-needed points against struggling Cameroon.