THE DAY REPLAYED: Wednesday’s action at the FIFA U-20 World Cup produced two matches needing extra time, one of which ended in the tournament’s first penalty shoot-out. Consequently, three group winners – including two supposed contenders for the title in the shape of Portugal and Colombia – were forced to bid farewell to the competition.
Los Cafeteros and A Selecção das Quinas were surprisingly ousted by Korea Republic and Ghana respectively, while Chile beat Croatia courtesy of two late goals. Iraq continued their amazing run at Turkey 2013 by overcoming a ten-man Paraguay side in extra time. It was a particularly memorable day for the continent of Asia, which will have three representatives in the quarter-finals of this event for the very first time.
Round of 16
Portugal 2-3 Ghana (Ferreira 71, 73; Ashia 19, Anaba 79, Boakye 85)
Croatia 0-2 Chile (Castillo 81, Simunovic 85)
Colombia 1-1 Korea Republic (aet; 7-8 on pens) (Juhun 16; Quintero 90+4)
Iraq 1-0 Paraguay (aet) (Farhan Shakor 94)
A very happy birthday
There is a good chance that when Ebenezer Assifuah blew out the 20 candles on his birthday cake on Wednesday morning, a desire for Ghana to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the fifth time was high up on his list of wishes. And his team-mates did not let him down, seeing off Portugal, the tournament’s highest-scoring side, in a thrilling match. The Ghanaians, the last third-placed team to qualify for the knockout stage, did well to shackle on-form Portuguese forward Bruma and came back from 2-1 down in the second half to book a last-eight showdown with Chile.
Chile by a hair's breadth
In a game in which Chile and Croatia played in the unfamiliar colours of white and blue respectively, the change of look ended up best suiting the South Americans, who scored twice in the last ten minutes to claim a memorable 2-0 victory over their European opponents. The match proved once and for all that the Mohican is decidedly the haircut of choice at Turkey 2013, with no fewer than five players on the pitch boasting the trend, one of whom, Nicolas Castillo, put it to good use by heading the Chileans into the lead in the 81st minute. Given this excellent result, it is as yet unknown whether or not the forward, who also serves as the team barber, will now insist that all of his team-mates adopt the same style.
The role of goalkeeper is often described as a thankless task. A good performance rarely attracts the same level of attention as that of a striker, and when a mistake is made, everyone tends to remember. Today, however, saw outstanding goalkeeping performances recorded across the board. Ghana No1 Eric Antwi kept Portugal’s formidable attack at bay, and will doubtless treasure the memory of the excellent double stop he made from Andre Gomes and then Ricardo. Antwi, whose ensuing crossbar-swinging celebration was almost as spectacular as his saves, can take a large part of the credit for the Africans’ qualification. Over in Antalya, the displays of Mohamed Hameed and Diego Morel, custodians of Iraq and Paraguay, were no less brilliant. In the first half, the pair frustrated both sets of forwards, denying nine goal-bound shots, the highlight of which was undoubtedly Hameed’s save from Paraguayan striker Derlis Gonzalez.
Late goal in vain
In the 94th minute, Colombia, South American champions and serious candidates to lift the trophy, trailed Korea Republic by a goal. When all seemed lost, Juan Quintero stepped up to curl home a magnificent free kick, dramatically taking the match to extra time in the process. It would all be for nothing in the end, however, as the Taeguk Warriors, who lived dangerously at times during the additional period, emerged victorious on penalties.
Although the entertaining encounter between Iraq and Paraguay was dominated by strong performances from both goalkeepers, it was impact substitute Farhan Shakor who had the final say for the Asians. The forward, who had come off the bench halfway through the second half, sneaked ahead of his marker in the 4th minute of extra time to head the Iraqis into a 1-0 lead that would eventually prove sufficient to propel them into a thoroughly unexpected quarter-final berth, 24 years after they last achieved such a feat.
The Stat of the Day
4 – The number of group winners who have now bitten the dust at this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. Following on from Greece, who topped Group D but were undone at the hands of Uzbekistan on Tuesday, it was the turn of Portugal, Colombia, and Croatia, winners of Groups B, C and F respectively, to be eliminated from Turkey 2013. The qualification of Ghana, who knocked out Portugal, backs up the argument that Group A, the so-called ‘Group of Death’ was the strongest section at the event, as three of its teams, Spain, France and the aforementioned Africans, have now booked their places in the quarter-finals.
Respect Quintero! One of the best for me
— Marvin Baumgartner (@Soccer_MB_12) July 3, 2013
El Salvador's Marvin Baumgartner marvels at Quintero's free-kick to equalise against Korea Republic.
6 July (all local times)
France-Uzbekistan (18.00, Rize)
Uruguay-Spain (21.00, Bursa)