THE DAY REPLAYED - A dramatic and historic day of FIFA U-20 World Cup action ended with two teams safely through to the last 16 and a clutch of records lying in tatters. For Venezuela, long renowned as the only South American nation never to qualify for a FIFA World Cup, this was also a date that will be forever etched in the nation's football folklore.
La Vinotinto's U-20 side had already made history merely by qualifying for this tournament, but now - and, remarkably, with a game to spare - they are assured of a place in the knockout stages after claiming their second victory in as many matches. Hapless Tahiti were their victims on this occasion, while Nigeria stayed in front the Pacific Islanders only on goal difference after going down 2-0 to a Spain side that will join Venezuela in the last 16. In Group A, meanwhile, a narrow, nervy victory for Italy and 10-man Paraguay's last-gasp win over the hosts has kept the qualification race wide open, and left Trinidad and Tobago on the brink of elimination.
Nigeria 0-2 Spain
Tahiti 0-8 Venezuela
Italy 2-1 Trinidad and Tobago
Egypt 1-2 Paraguay
Goal of the day
Venezuela 8-0 Tahiti, Rojas 72
Fran Merida's beautifully weighted lob staked an early claim, but ultimately the battle for this particular honour came down to a straight face-off between two left-footed free-kicks. Afroto's well-weighted equaliser against Paraguay was unarguably the more important of the two, but Oscar Rojas narrowly edged the Egytpian with a magnificently executed strike, curled over the Tahitian wall and into the top right-hand corner from 25 yards.
Mischievous Merida on the spot: Fran Merida clearly subscribes to the theory that revenge is a dish best served cold. The Spain midfielder, who was on the losing side to Nigeria in the FIFA U-17 World Cup final two years ago, broke the Flying Eagles' hearts with the cheekiest of winning goals, chipping home an audacious, Zinedine Zidane-style penalty to seal a place in the last 16.
Conga in Cairo: While Venezuela's players were making history on the park, their supporters were winning friends with an endearing display of joyful exuberance in the stands. With drums beating and flags waving, the Vinotinto fans spent half-time and much of the second half dancing their way through Cairo International Stadium while the locals cheered and took photographs. Another memorable moment in this one-sided encounter came in the 92nd minute of injury time, when Jose Rondon completed his hat-trick just seconds after Yonathan Del Valle had rounded off a treble of his own. Never before in the history of the FIFA U-20 World Cup had one match contained hat-tricks from two players on the same team.
16 - Poor Tahiti. The Polynesians became reluctant record-breakers this evening, with their tally of 16 goals conceded in the opening two matches setting a new high-water mark at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The team handing over this undesirable record were Honduras, who shipped 12 goals in their opening two matches at Netherlands 2005. However, although Tahiti had two men sent off, that was one record the Hondurans held on to. In 1995, four of the Central Americans' players received their marching orders in a 7-1 defeat to the Dutch.
"A truly commanding performance by Paraguay. They were a far superior team, and in the second half with 10 vs 11 they really showed by how much better they were. They look like a lock-in to the 1/4 final at least," ak2404 (Canada) offers some praise for the never-say-die Paraguayans.