THE ROUND OF 16 REPLAYED - The endgame has begun at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009. Only eight teams are still in the running at FIFA's second-biggest and second-oldest tournament. The Round of 16 had it all, with stunning goals, end-to-end action, heart-stopping thrills and dramatic finishes - in short, the very ingredients which make football the world's favourite sport.
The quarter-finalists are all now dreaming of hoisting the famous trophy, but a clutch of big names saw that same dream crumble to dust in the last sixteen. The Spanish, who cruised through the group stage with maximum points and no goals conceded, have packed for home after a shock defeat to Italy. South American runners-up Paraguay suffered an unexpectedly clear-cut 3-0 loss to Korea Republic. Czech Republic, finalists at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2007 in Canada, exited this year's tournament in the most agonising fashion at the hands of surprise package Hungary.
Expectations were running high for hosts Egypt, but despite the raucous support of another vast crowd, the home side are out after defeat to Costa Rica. Ghana beat South Africa to underscore their trophy ambitions, while an impressive Brazil ultimately made short work of courageous Uruguay. The United Arab Emirates showed the steely nerves which won them the Asian championship in edging past Venezuela. In the last Round of 16 tie, European champions Germany showed typical resilience and staying power, twice coming from behind to beat Nigeria despite finishing the game with ten men.
Spain 1-3 Italy
Paraguay 0-3 Korea Republic
Ghana 2-1 aet South Africa
Hungary 2-2 aet, 4-3 pso Czech Republic
Egypt 0-2 Costa Rica
Brazil 3-1 Uruguay
Venezuela 1-2 United Arab Emirates
Germany 3-2 Nigeria
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Goal of the round
Hungary-Czech Republic, Mate Kiss (15th minute)
The last 16 produced a number of memorable goals. A skilful solo effort by Korea starlet Kim Min Woo, a superbly executed curler from Alex Teixeira of Brazil and German defender Bjorn Kopplin's courageous individual strike will all live long in the memory. However, the most spectacular goal in the Round of 16 came from the boot of Hungary's Mate Kiss: after taking possession in midfield, he advanced towards the final third while seeking to play a pass. With no better-positioned team-mate in sight, Kiss took matters into his own hands and let loose from fully 35 yards. The ball rocketed into the corner of the net, bringing the crowd to their feet, sparking scenes of joy among the Hungarians, and causing a sea of dejected faces among their opponents.
Round of 16 moments to savour
Where there's a will, there's a way: The proverb could not be more aptly applied than to Bjorn Kopplin, as the Germany defender dug deep into his reserves of energy to cover half the distance of the pitch in stoppage time against Nigeria. With opponents trailing in his wake, Kopplin crowned his unstoppable burst by picking his spot and firing past the Nigeria keeper, winning the game in dramatic fashion to the delight of his ecstatic team-mates.
Magic threesome: Brazil are renowned for producing gifted individuals in the Pele, Zico or Ronaldinho mould. At the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2009, three youth products appear to have a better then evens chance of one day being mentioned in the same breath as their famous fellow-countrymen. Giuliano, Alex Teixeira and Alan Kardec pulled the Uruguay defence this way and that seemingly at will. The trio conjured up three beautifully executed goals in the space of just ten minutes, sealing Brazil's comfortable passage into the last eight.
Seeking inspiration from Petr: This was the headline over a recent FIFA.com interview with Hungary keeper Peter Gulacsi, a dead ringer for Czech Republic senior number one Petr Cech. As Gulacsi said, "I'd love to be compared to him as a player one day." In a classic irony of fate, the youngster's outstanding display against the Czechs in the Round of 16 has surely taken the young Hungarian a step closer to his goal. Gulacsi's three penalty saves in the shoot-out made him the hero of the evening as his team claimed a berth in the last eight.
Round of 16 numbers game
3.25 - There have been goals galore in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009 thus far. In the 44 group stage and round of 16 matches, a total of 143 goals were scored - that's an average of 3.25 per game. To put that tally in context, there were 143 goals scored in the 2005 editition - over the entire tournament. It leaves Egypt 2009 within touching distance of the record scoring average, 3.28 goals per game, which was set at Qatar 1995.
Korea Republic-Ghana, Suez, Friday 9 October, 16.30 (local)
Italy-Hungary, Suez, Friday 9 October, 20.00 (local)
Brazil-Germany, Cairo, Saturday, 10 October, 16.30 (local)
UAE-Costa Rica, Cairo, Saturday, 10 October, 20.00 (local)
Have Your Say
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