THE DAY REPLAYED: It was a day of celebrations across Turkey as the first day of the FIFA U-20 World Cup was marked by European dominance across three of the games.
While a victorious Korea Republic and the opening ceremony lit up Kayseri ahead of Portugal's win over Nigeria, France danced their way to a triumph over Ghana and Spain dazzled USA in Istanbul. FIFA.com looks back in the best bits of the opening day of Turkey 2013.
Special guests aplenty
The opening day's festivities around the country had their fair share of special guests on show as Turkey 2013 got under way. The crowd in Kayseri was joined by two special guests in the form of FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Turkey's Prime Minister, who were treated to a great evening's entertainment. They were even welcomed by the first goal of the tournament too as Maykel Reyes scored for Cuba. Meanwhile, across in Istanbul, the games there were being watched by some unexpected footballing dignitaries of its own as Manchester United stars of past and present were in attendance. Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Ince were all watching, with the Welshman in the process of obtaining his UEFA coaching license.
The colours of Kayseri
The spectacle of football on offer was punctuated by something a little more coordinated, no matter how intricate the teams feel their free-kick routines are, as the Kadir Has Stadium was overrun with colourful volunteers welcoming the competition to Turkey. In between Korea Republic's opening victory over Cuba and Portugal's win over Nigeria, the crowd were treated to sea of blue and red flags inside the arena. Entering to the sound of the official song 'Yıldızlar Buradan Yükseliyor', translating into 'Building Bridges for the Rising Stars', dancers twirled as balloons bearing the flags and names of all 24 countries announced that the FIFA U-20 World Cup has truly arrived.
Unsurprisingly, France were in fine spirits with their 3-1 victory over Ghana. And the team look to have found a novel way to express their joy at scoring a goal: with a dance contest! Geoffrey Kondogbia, who open the scoring for Les Bluets, told FIFA.com after the game that he and his team-mates like to perform an improvised sequence after each goal, as the side are big fans of showing off their dancefloor skills. Today's trio of goals saw a synchronised walk and skip, a dance around the corner flag, and a knees-up jog and pose in the corner – and on today's performance, you can expect more to come.
While the French get to enjoy themselves following a goal, spare a thought for goalkeepers, who every now and again produce a save just as spectacular as any strike. Jose Sa can be proud of just that, after a stunning double save denied Nigeria a goal one the stroke of half-time in Kayseri. Nigeria captain Abdul Ajagun made room seven yards from goal, but Sa saved superbly with his feet before denying the Nigerian a second time with a miraculous reaction stop. Ajagun would beat Sa twice later in the game – becoming the 13th player to score in two FIFA U-20 World Cups, having scored against Guatemala in 2011 – but the Portuguese keeper went home the happier.
The Stat of the Day
- Spain's four goals against the USA saw the UEFA European U-19 Championship winners overtake Argentina as the second-highest scorers in FIFA U-20 World Cup history with 145. The goal to equal the record was a thing of beauty, and was one of two scored by Spanish champions Barcelona's only representative in the side, Gerard Deulofeu. Receiving the ball on the left corner of the box, he cut inside, lifted his head and curled a gorgeous shot into the far corner. Jese scored either side of that effort to claim the record, just one week shy of their, and the tournament's, first goal 36 years ago courtesy of Jose Ricardo Escobar.
Colombia-Australia (Trabzon, 18.00)
Turkey-El Salvador (Trabzon, 21.00)
Mexico-Greece (Gaziantep, 18.00)
Paraguay-Mali (Gaziantep, 21.00)