Semi-finals begin to take shape

THE DAY REPLAYED: The first two semi-finalists at the Boys’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014 have been confirmed. Although Iceland narrowly lost their second game of Group C, they can no longer drop out of the top two thanks to their resounding opening match win over Honduras. The second team to qualify from this group will be determined by the upcoming game between Peru and Honduras, with the Central American side needing a clear victory in order to progress.

In the day’s second match, Korea Republic thrashed Vanuatu to secure their passage to the knockout stages as Group D victors, having already defeating Cape Verde Islands 5-0 in their opening game. The two island nations from Africa and Oceania will face each other in the group’s final match to decide who takes the last semi-final spot.

The results Group C Iceland 1-2 Peru (0-2) In this thrilling and high-quality encounter, it was the South Americans who ultimately emerged as victors. Remarkably, all three goals resulted from set pieces: Peru took the lead in only the fifth minute thanks to a free-kick from captain Fernando Pacheco, before Gerald Tavara doubled their lead with another spectacular direct free-kick.

The Icelandics halved the deficit in the second half when defender Torfi Gunnarsson rose above the rest to nod a corner into the back of the net. The Europeans then pressed for the equaliser with all their might, but were ultimately unable to create any serious chances. Kolbeinn Finnsson had the best opportunity to score, but his long-range effort whistled just over the crossbar.

Group D Korea Republic 9-0 Vanuatu (4-0) Once again, the Asian side proved in impressive style why they are among the favourites to take home the gold medal. Although Vanuatu had the first chance to score through Ronaldo Wilkins’ distance strike, Korea Republic then dominated at will.

A hat-trick from Kim Gyuhyeong and another goal from Jeong Wooyeong gave the Taeguk Warriors a 4-0 lead within the first 40 minutes. The Koreans continued their lively pressing in the second half, ultimately equalling Bolivia’s record score of 9-0 against Haiti in 2010. Kim Gyuhyeong netted his fourth of the evening while substitute Lee Jiyong grabbed a hat-trick of his own.

Memorable moments *"GT7"*

Some of world football’s greatest No7s have developed a reputation as free-kick specialists, such as David Beckham, Franck Ribery or, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. Similarly, Peru’s budding young No7 Gerald Tavara appears to be another dead-ball master in the making, stroking the ball over the Icelandic wall into the top corner of the goal with his left foot from 20 metres out. Iceland goalkeeper Aron Stefansson could do nothing but watch a fantastic free-kick with which even the self-titled FIFA Ballon d’Or winner ‘CR7’ would have been pleased.

*Kim Gyuhyeong’s towering achievement

*At 1.67 metres tall, Kim Gyuhyeong is one of the shortest players in the South Korean squad, but his four goals against Vanuatu were a huge achievement. The Ulsan Hyundai FC midfielder scored a flawless hat-trick within just 17 minutes during the first half, the most stunning of which gave his side a 3-0 lead. Seeing the Oceanic goalkeeper outside of his area, Kim Gyuhyeong sent a perfectly measured lob beyond the reach of the keeper and several defenders and into the back of the net.

The stat 9 – Korea Republic’s passage to the semi-finals of the Boys’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament 2014 marks the team’s ninth appearance in the knockout rounds of a FIFA youth competition. The Taeguk Warriors previously reached this point twice at the FIFA U-17 World Cup and six times at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The South Koreans’ best result to date came at the U-20 World Cup in Mexico in 1983, where they finished fourth.

Next up Group A Peru - Honduras, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Thursday 21 August, 18:00 local time * *

Group B Vanuatu – Cape Verde Islands, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Thursday 21 August, 20:45 local time