THE DAY REPLAYED: The first day of the final round of group games saw many side's futures at Turkey 2013 finally set in stone after almost a week of battling it out in the group stages, though the nervous wait is just beginning for Korea Republic and Ghana.
With Spain already through, the remaining seven sides competing across Group A and B all theoretically had the chance to make it into the last 16. While debutants Cuba were the first to depart, they were followed a few hours later by USA, with Portugal, Nigeria and France all securing berths into the knockout rounds.
That leaves Korea Republic and Ghana facing a nervous wait to see if they can be one of the four third-place finisher to also receive a pass into the round of 16. The Asian side hold the advantage, with four points to The Black Meteors' three, but all will become clear in the coming days. FIFA.com reviews the day's action.
Spain 2-1 France (Istanbul - Goals: Paco Alcacer 23', Jese 56'; Thibaut Vion 90'+1 )
Ghana 4-1 USA (Kayseri - Goals: Frank Acheampong 38', Ebenezer Assifuah 58' 78', Kennedy Ashia 83'; Shane O'Neill 69')
Korea Republic 0-1 Nigeria (Istanbul - Goal: Olarenwaju Kayode 9')
Portugal 5-0 Cuba (Kayseri - Goals: Ricardo 15', Aladje 37', Bruma 43' 62', Te Ze 69')
A West African choir
After Olarenwaju Kayode opened the scoring for Nigeria in the Ali Sami Yen Arena, a tuneful swelling of sound grew from one corner of the ground. The melody caught in the ear as you tried to pick it out from the noise of the stadium, before suddenly ranging out clearly. The Flying Eagles faithful were chanting “give us some goals” to the tune of the classic John Lennon song 'Give Peace a Chance'. The rendition was so good, it caused fellow fans of the team in white to relocate and join the musical squadron of supporters.
As the tournament nears the end of the first stage there are a handful of stars who are beginning to rise above the rest; one of those is most certainly Portugal's Bruma. Scoring two and making two as the Iberian side racked up their biggest-ever U-20 World Cup win, has been on superb form throughout the opening round. His second brace of the tournament now leaves him trailing only Adailton's nine-goal haul in 1997 as the tournament's top group stage goal-scorer. His total of five leaves him amongst exalted company, including the likes of Davor Suker (1987), Javier Saviola (2001) and Fernando Llorente (2005).
Spain and France's scheduled showdown
While June and July see a large number of international tournaments taking place – particularly those involving European teams – you never expect two sides to set aside a date just for themselves. Spain and France's meeting in Istanbul was the third time they had met on 27 June, and are games are ones to forget for the Spanish. The first saw France lift their first major trophy as Michel Platini and Bruno Bellone helped them claim the 1984 UEFA European Championship with a 2-0 win. The second was the last time Spain were eliminated from a major tournament, as late goals from Patrick Vieira and Zinedine Zidane saw Les Bleus progress into the quarter-finals of 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany. After a win today, Spain will no doubt hope for more luck in the future on 27 June against their neighbours.
Ten out of ten for effort
While football invariably turn up to games to see goals, they are usually a collection of people who know when a moment in the game deserves some credit – even if the ball does not end up in the next, particularly when it arrives from an unexpected source. Those in Kayseri for Portugal-Cuba showed their appreciation for a one of those events when a stunning overhead-kick by Aricheell Hernandez was saved by Jose Sa, but the on-looking fans cheered it as if it had gone in. While it was not the perfect departing gift for for Hernandez, he no doubt enjoyed the adulation he received for his efforts.
The Stat of the Day 3 – After netting against Cuba today, Portuguese strike duo Aladje and Bruma become only the third pair of players to score in all three of the U-20 World Cup group games, a feat match only by Juan Riquelme and Bernardo Romeo in 1997, as well as Olarenwaju Kayode and Ahmed Musa in 2011.
*The Words *
A octavos y contento por el partido! Gracias por los mensajes a todos! Grandeeeeeeeee!
— Paco alcacer (@paco_alcacer) June 27, 2013
Paco Alcacer thanks fans for their support after Spain reach the last 16 at Turkey 2013.
Next Up (local times)
Australia-Turkey (21:00, Trabzon)
El Salvador-Colombia (21:00, Gaziantep)
Greece-Paraguay (18:00, Trabzon)
Mali-Mexico (18:00, Gaziantep)