Czech Republic may have weathered an Argentinian storm to seize a goalless draw in their Group E opener at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007, but few gave them a chance of stopping Hugo Tocalli’s star-studded symphony when the teams met again in the final, five years ago to this Sunday.
La Albiceleste had, after all, since won five successive matches, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one in the process; Maxi Moralez and Sergio Aguero, who had already been capped at senior level and played his club football for Atletico Madrid, had been in rampant form; and the South Americans were out to win their fifth title in seven attempts and extend their own record to six overall, while the Europeans had only just made the semi-finals for the very first time.
Yet just nine minutes were on the clock when the alarm bells rang for the South Americans, with Marek Suchy’s close-range effort tipped onto the post by Sergio Romero. At the other end, Ever Banega and Aguero combined delightfully to set up Moralez, whose effort was superbly blocked by Radek Petr.
Moralez spurned another glorious chance just after the restart, before his team-mate Romero made a spectacular save from Lubos Kalouda as a pulsating game swung from end to end.
On the hour, the deadlock was broken - and in such emphatic fashion, with Martin Fenin’s sumptuous volley on the turn flying just inside the post to give Czech Republic the lead. Argentina desperately needed their talisman to deliver when it mattered most, and Aguero did just that two minutes later, latching on to Banega’s through-pass and slotting the ball home.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup final appeared headed for extra time for the first time in 16 years, but with just four minutes remaining, Mauro Zarate forced home a low, 20-yard strike to complete the Argentinian fightback.
A tournament whose huge ticket sales had made it the largest single-sport event to ever unfold in Canada had ended with a familiar name on the trophy.