THE DAY REPLAYED - Morocco and Italy turned up the heat with an extra-time goal-feast that went to penalties in Utrecht, while pre-tournament favourites and holders Brazil took their time getting going against Germany, before nicking it in extra-time in Tilburg.
Italy twice came from behind but still failed to muster enough of their trademark grit and graft to master a lively Moroccan outfit in the first quarter-final of the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005. With the Galgenwaard Stadium looking more Casablanca than Utrecht, the throngs of Moroccan fans in attendance were sent into fits of ecstasy when the impressive Mouhssine Iajour crossed dangerously from the left for Nabil El Zhar, who poked home off the underside of the crossbar mid-way through the first half.
The first-ever meeting between the two nations at a FIFA finals proved a bruising affair with 72 fouls, 13 cautions and one sending off. And when Michele Canini rose highest to head the equaliser with a quarter-hour of regular time to go, it looked like the Europeans were going to pull off a late smash-and-grab.
But Canini quickly went from hero to goat, when - six minutes into a thrill-a-minute extra time - he received his marching orders for a second cautionable offence. The North Africans pounced on their numerical superiority, taking the edge again thanks to the poor luck of own-goal villain Francesco Battaglia.
Once more, though, the Italians did their forbearers proud when towering striker Graziano Pelle - whistled with every touch by the seemingly all-Moroccan crowd - stretched out on the doorstep to head Lino Marzoratti's cross home with just minutes left on the clock.
Moroccan keeper Mohammed Bourkade came up with two fine saves in the resulting shootout - as he had done with a twice-taken penalty in regular time - to send the North Africans through to the semi-finals.
As Morocco's army of ever-lively fans began to plan their trek to Kerkrade where their heroes will take on either the hosts or Nigeria, Brazilian supporters were dancing up a sumptuous samba in Tilburg ahead of their clash with resolute, if previously uninspired, Germany.
The real Brazil stands up…late
After both teams' captains read a statement denouncing racism in football in honour of FIFA's Anti-Discrimination Day , the match took a long time indeed before springing to life.
Brazil had the edge in a patient first forty-five, but never really threatened as it is becoming painfully clear that the holders lack a clinical goal-getter. But desperate to keep their trophy safely at home in Rio, the South Americans soldiered on with a strange, uncommon lack of fluidity.
And in what seemed a fitting end to an ugly match, some slack marking from the Brazilians allowed Alexander Huber to slap the ball off his knee and into the net in minute 67. Bouncing against the back of a defender, the 'shot' hardly had enough steam to cross the line as it bobbled, almost apologetically, into the net.
But in minute 82 a workman-like, unspectacular Brazil finally answered the carioca call. Edcarlos' bicycle kick splattered off the bar and Diego Tardelli followed up to nod the rebound home.
With all the momentum in the dying minutes, Brazil should have iced the affair. But as they finally began to play with some style at these finals, extra-time was again required.
Eight minutes into the first period, Rafael sprang from nowhere to hammer home for a spot in the semi-finals. The holders' finishing woes were well on display for the remainder of extra-time and could well cost mighty Brazil in her upcoming semi-final with either Spain or archrivals Argentina.