THE DAY REPLAYED –Brazil and Portugal will contest the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2011 in Colombia following their respective last-four victories against Mexico and France. This Saturday's decider in Bogota will be a repeat of the 1991 edition, when the Portuguese won 4-2 on penalties almost exactly 20 years ago.
Both sides secured their places in the grand finale with 2-0 victories on an exciting evening in which France were ruthlessly reminded that failure to take your chances at this level is severely punished. Indeed, Les Bleuets were by no means second best at the Estadio Atanasio Girardot in Medellin on Wednesday, but Francis Smerecki's side were unable to find a way past the excellent Mika in the opposing goal. Meanwhile Portugal were merciless in their finishing, netting two of their few chances to see off their European rivals.
The Portuguese have certainly been the minimalists of this year's tournament. Since the expansion of the FIFA U-20 World Cup to 24 teams in 1997, no team has ever managed to reach the final having scored just five goals.
Brazilian striker Henrique has already netted the same number personally. The 20-year-old struck both in his side's 2-0 success against Mexico to move to the top of the goalscoring charts. The prolific goalgetter was just one month old when Brazil last played Portugal in the final of the tournament. Little did he know back then that 20 years later he would be competing in one himself. A Seleção have now gone 13 games without defeat and are set to compete in their eighth FIFA U-20 World Cup final.
*France 0-2 Portugal
Brazil 2-0 Mexico
Goal of the day*
Brazil–Mexico, Henrique (84') *
There was something typically Brazilian about the way Danilo, Dudu and Henrique combined for their side's second goal against Mexico. Coach Ney Franco pulled a tactical masterstroke by introducing Dudu and Allan on 69 minutes and pushing Danilo, a defender by trade, into midfield. The decision quickly paid off as Danilo threaded a precise ball in behind the defence for Dudu to square from the right, leaving Henrique with the simple task of slotting home his fifth of the tournament from close range.
Unexpected support: *Brazil were met with the warmest of welcomes in Pereira, where cries of *'Ole, Bra-siiil' could be heard throughout the 90 minutes. The Colombians got behind their South American neighbours after watching their own side bow out of the tournament against Mexico in the quarters. Wearing their traditional yellow shirts, the local fans fitted in perfectly with the golden Brazilian crowd, who magnanimously gave the Mexicans players a standing ovation at the end.
*Record finger: *Portugal goalkeeper Mika had a new record in his sights going into the semi-final clash with France. He only needed 12 minutes to break the previous record of 492 minutes without conceding a goal, but just as the record came into view, referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded the French a free-kick in an ominous position. Clement Grenier curled a fine effort towards the top-left corner, but with his record in danger, Mika produced an unbelievable save to claw the ball away with his fingertips. Mika's heroics saw him overtake Chilean custodian Christopher Toselli's previous best mark from 2007, and the Leiria player will now be hoping to extend his new record of 570 minutes the final.
One-eyed saves: *Mika's Brazilian counterpart Gabriel was involved in a heavy collision with Mexico's Erick Torres in the 16th minute of their semi-final in Pereira. The *Seleção goalkeeper caught the striker's boot in the face and required minutes of treatment, eventually continuing the match with a nasty black eye. The eye continued to swell and was almost closed completely by the end, but that didn't stop the Brazilian shot-stopper from pulling off an excellent save to deny Marvin Pinon's 82nd-minute free-kick.
615 – Portugal have set a number of new records at the tournament and may soon break another. The Europeans are yet to concede in 615 minutes of football, the second-highest duration in the history of the competition after Brazil's 634 minutes between 1985 and 1987. The Portuguese need to keep it tight for just 19 more minutes to set a new best mark in Saturday's final – fittingly against the current record holders.
Saturday's final between Brazil and Portugal will take place at 20.00 local time at El Campin in Bogota. Prior to that, France take on Mexico at 17.00 in the match for third place.