THE DAY REPLAYED: Peru and Korea Republic have reached the final of the Boys’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014, but both teams needed to dig deep to emerge victorious from two thrilling semi-final encounters. While the South Americans spent much of their match trailing to outsiders Cape Verde Islands and needed late goals to seal victory, the Asian side had their goalkeeper to thank for guiding his team past the tough young Icelandic side.
*The results *Semi-finals
*Peru 3-1 Cape Verde Islands (0-1) *
The match started with a bang when the lightning-fast Andradino gave the Cape Verde Islands a surprise lead with just over a minute on the clock. For a while the Peruvians seemed shell-shocked but gradually settled as the match went on. Franklin Gil was unlucky when his shot hit the crossbar in the tenth minute, with Gerald Tavara’s long-range effort skimming narrowly wide moments later. The South American side continued to ramp up the pressure, forcing Cape Verdean goalkeeper Mario Jorge to produce a string of impressive saves to prevent the equaliser.
The Peruvians rattled the bar once again after half-time, this time thanks to Tavara’s powerful shot from outside the penalty area. The South American champions finally made their breakthrough in the 49th minute, when Gil converted a penalty to level the score at 1-1 having been felled in the box moments earlier. Fabio then deflected a free-kick into his own net to put Peru on the path to victory before Fernando Pacheco’s counter-attacking goal confirmed their passage to the final and gave the South American side a much deserved 3-1 win in a captivating semi-final encounter.
Korea Republic 1-1 Iceland (0-0) 3-1 on penalties *
Both teams made a tentative start to this hotly-contested match, and their decision to prioritise discipline in defence meant goalscoring chances were thin on the ground. The first major threat came in the 26th minute when Hong Hyunseok narrowly missed the target after making a brilliant solo run into the penalty area, before Atli Hrafn Andrason forced South Korean goalkeeper Kim Seungha to make an impressive save at the other end. Seungha was called into action again shortly before half-time to deflect a long-range shot from Jonatan Jonsson.
Iceland’s courage grew in the second half, and they took the lead through substitute Helgi Gudjonsson in the 60th minute only for the Asian team to equaliser just three minutes later. This time another substitute, Joo Hwimin, nodded the ball home from a free-kick. These goals marked the last noteworthy action of normal time, with a penalty shoot-out needed to separate the two sides. Kim Seungha stepped up to fend off three Icelandic spot-kicks and spark jubilant celebrations among the Korean players and fans.
Memorable moments *Flying start for Cape Verde Islands
*Andradino’s goal for Cape Verde Islands was the second-fastest strike in the history of the Boys’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament. The African side managed a similarly blistering start in their group match against Vanuatu, when Kenny found the net in the second minute to give his team a 1-0 lead. Only Ammirul Mazlan has netted faster than these players, scoring for hosts Singapore in the opening minute of their match against Zimbabwe during the 2010 tournament.
Return of the ‘super sub’*
*In Iceland’s opening game against Honduras, Helgi Gudjonsson was brought on in the second half before causing a stir with an assured hat-trick. The blond striker started the match against Peru with hopes he would emulate his earlier success, but could not find the target. By scoring almost immediately after being introduced to the game against Korea Republic, Gudjonsson has now cemented his reputation as a dangerous ‘super sub’.
A PSYchological boost *
Perhaps it was the sounds of home that spurred Kim Seungha and his team-mates on to glory against Iceland. During half-time, the strains of ‘Gangnam Style’ – the world-famous hit song recorded by South Korean rapper Psy – could be heard echoing around the arena. This K-Pop song, which topped the charts in countless countries worldwide and became the most-watched video in *YouTube history with over two billion views, is likely to be popular among Korean players and fans again after their semi-final triumph.
*The number *1 – Helgi Gudjonsson needed less than 60 seconds to usher the ball into his opponents’ net after being brought on as a substitute against Peru. In both matches, the goalscoring substitute was on the pitch for under a minute before giving his team a reason to celebrate – an incredible achievement.
Up next* * * Final
Peru – Korea Republic, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Wednesday 27 August, 20:45 (local time)*
Play-off for third place
Cape Verde Islands – Iceland, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Wednesday 27 August, 18:00 (local time)
Play-off for fifth place
Honduras - Vanuatu, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Monday 25 August, 20:45 (local time)**