THE DAY REPLAYED - The last games in any group phase are invariably entertaining and dramatic. The infamous "double headers" which determine the final qualifiers for the last sixteen stage tend to generate intense joy and inconsolable grief, and the eight matches in Kerkrade, Tilburg, Emmen and Enschede on Super Saturday at the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 proved no exception. Read on for minute-by-minute coverage, as a scenario with all the thrills of an Alfred Hitchcock screenplay unfolds. Synchronise your watches, ladies and gentlemen, the countdown has begun!
Italy 1 Canada 0, 1.53pm
The Italians strike first through Graziano Pelle, who meets a cross from Daniele Galloppa at the near post. As things stand, they lie third in Group E, but with only three points and a goal difference of -2, the Azzurini are still a long way off qualifying as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Argentina 1 Germany 0, 2.13pm
At the end of a first period they dominated for long spells, the Albicelestes finally open the scoring through Neri Cardozo. Lionel Messi does the hard part by splitting the German defence before laying it on a plate for the Boca Juniors striker who fires past Rene Adler. Courtesy of this lead, the Argentinians move out in front in Group D, as in the other game, the Americans are still being held by the Egyptians. Germany slip to third position, which, with 4 points and a goal difference of +1, would probably be enough for them.
Italy 2 Canada 0, 2.32pm
The Galloppa - Pelle pairing is having a field day. This time, Pelle heads it on for Galloppa, who dispatches a superb acrobatic effort into the top corner of the Canadian net. Berrettini's boys' goal difference is looking healthier by the minute. They have now hauled themselves level with the Chileans - their main rivals for back-door entry to the knockout stage - but need more goals, the Rojos having netted several more that the Italians.
Italy 2 Canada 1, 2.34pm
The soaring spirits of the Italians are brought back down to earth with a bump by Marcel De Jong, who reduces the deficit for the Canucks with an imperious free kick. The European side have still got it all to do, while in the Canadian camp, hope springs eternal. If they can win, Dale Mitchell's protégés will have four points on the board and a fair chance of getting through.
United States 1 Egypt 0, 2.41pm
Reduced to 10 men from the 35th minute, this Egyptian side are well and truly under the cosh. And the entry into the fray of Freddy Adu hastens their downfall. Immediately after coming on, the Washington DC star crosses for Jacob Peterson, who makes no mistake with the finish. The goals moves the Americans up to the top of Group D, demoting the Argentines to second and leaving the Germans lying third.
Colombia 1 Syria 0, 2.49pm
After an hour of unremitting domination, the Cafeteros finally find a chink in the Syrian defence. From a Juan Zuniga cross, Hugo Rodallega soars into the Tilburg sky to plant the ball past Moustafa Shakosh. Courtesy of the goal, the Colombians move to the top in Group E, while the Syrians lie second.
Italy 3 Canada 1, 2.53pm
The Italians are still gamely playing catch-up. Pelle, a quiet figure at the tournament until today, is suddenly on fire. His bullet header from a corner could be of crucial importance to his side, as it leaves the Squadra needing just one more strike on target to move ahead of the Chileans on goal difference. While that may not in the end prove enough, it is essential in order to keep their hopes alive.
Argentina 1 Germany 0, 3.05pm
The Argentinians are forced to finish the game a man down, after Juan Manuel Torres receives his second yellow card of the game. But Francisco Ferraro's valiant charges manage to keep their lead intact until the end. Due to the USA's win over Egypt, the South American side finish second. The Americans must await the second batch of games to discover their next opponents.
Italy 4 Canada 1, 3.15pm
In typically Italian style, the Squadra get the goal they need in the very last minute of normal time. Raffaele De Martino, having come on a few minutes earlier, launches into a frantic dribble that takes out three defenders before rounding the keeper and slotting it into the empty net. The Italian bench pours onto the pitch, Paolo Berrettini in tears. Mathematically, however, they must not count their chickens until the second batch of matches is over.
Colombia 2 Syria 0, 3.17pm
To give a fair reflection of their supremacy, the Colombians bag a second goal through a fine bit of individual skill from substitute Radamel Garcia. The result means the Cafeteros have won all three of their matches by the same score line. Having topped their group without really breaking sweat, they will now be rewarded by a last sixteen encounter with Argentina, who finished second in Group D. When they met during the qualifying campaign, the two sides ended up sharing the points (1:1), but this time there will have to be a winner. The Syrians will also have their work cut out for them, as their second-place finish means they will face the winners of Group F.
Brazil 1 Korea Republic 0, 4.09pm
Fitfully brilliant since the start of the event, the Brazilians finally get their show on the road against the Koreans. Renato opens the scoring with a header after 9 minutes, cementing the Auriverdes' hold on first place. The Koreans, in contrast, are now in a precarious position. With their difference inferior to both Chile and Italy, they need at least a point to finish among the best third-placed teams. As things stand, the Japanese and Koreans will be the unlucky "third-placed losers".
Netherlands 1 Benin 0, 4.47pm
In what is the most finely balanced encounter, the stylish Dutch are struggling to impose themselves, while the African outfit are showing that they too have their fair share of raw talent. However, the dismissal of Charaf Chitou for a second yellow card offence threatens to make the Squirrels' task even tougher and just before the break, Hedwiges Maduro goes for the throat of the Beninese defence before giving keeper Yoann Djidonou no chance. At this stage, Japan and Benin are absolutely level in the group. If the scores stay the same, the teams will be separated according to the number of cards received, an area where the Squirrels are at a distinct disadvantage.
Nigeria 1 Switzerland 0, 5:04pm
The Flying Eagles finally make the breakthrough after utterly dominating the opening half, due mainly to the accomplished performances of Promise Isaac and Chinedu Ogbuke. Indeed, it is the latter who latches onto a pass from the former and embeds the ball in the back of the Swiss net to send his compatriots to seventh heaven. Courtesy of this dynamic double act, the Nigerians move to second in Group F, leaving the Swiss bottom of the table on goal difference.
Brazil 2 Korea Republic 0, 5.12pm
The Auriverdes secure their comfortable qualification with a long-range shot from Rafael Sobis. The Asian champions remain third in Group F, but their goal difference is greatly inferior to that of Chile, who, as things stand, will be the final third-placed side to go through. And to the immense disappointment of the Koreans, there is no further scoring, consigning the Asian outfit to a trip back home. So the last-ditch Italians and the Chileans go through on goal difference, while Brazil's top-place finish earns them a tie with Syria.
Nigeria 2 Switzerland 0, 5.15pm
Things are not going according to plan for the Swiss, as the second goal conceded by Pierre-André Schuermann's boys from a John Obi Mikel penalty leaves them well off the third-place finish that could secure them qualification. It has to be said, however, that Samson Siasia's charges have seized the match by the scruff of the neck from the start, proving that they are African champions on merit.
Japan 0 Australia 1, 5.30pm
In Kerkrade, a game somewhat short on excitement for the spectators is enlivened by Ryan Townsend who, with a modicum of help from the Japanese keeper Shusaku Nishikawa, scores the goal that, as things stand, qualifies the Aussies. Rising to second place with four points, Ange Postecoglou's protégés stand on the brink of an unlikely qualification for the knockout stages.
Nigeria 3 Switzerland 0, 5.40pm
Things are going from bad to worse for the Swiss, who suffer another sucker punch from the most impressive Nigerian on the field, Promise Isaac. David Abwo's cross is met in fine style by the diving Flying Eagles prodigy, boosting the Africans' goal difference and the spirits of neutrals into the bargain, whilst at the same time removing any remnants of hope in the hearts of Philippe Senderos and Co. Nigeria will play the Ukrainians in the next round.
Japan 1 Australia 1, 5.45pm
The final day of the group stage would not be complete without a last-minute miracle, and this time, it comes courtesy of Japan. By equalising in the dying seconds, substitute Shunsuke Maeda enables the Asian side to pip Australia and Benin to second place. Having scored one more goal than the Africans, they will face Morocco in the last sixteen, while the Netherlands earn a tie with Chile, the last side to earn a third-placed reprieve.