- Italy, Senegal qualify for Round of 16
- Poland masterful in first win on home soil
- Japan fortify hopes of advancement
THE DAY REPLAYED – The road to the knockout rounds became much clearer on Sunday for Groups A and B at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. With two of three group stage matches played for eight teams, two sides can already count themselves among the final 16.
Italy clinched a place in the Round of 16 at Poland 2019, having recorded back-to-back wins over Mexico and Ecuador. Their latest conquest in Bydgoszcz was workmanlike, with captain Andrea Pinamonti putting Gli Azzurrini ahead early and their heady defence doing the rest.
Senegal made it two victories in two games by converting a pair of penalties against Colombia, also solidifying a spot in the last 16. The Lions of Teranga boast a three-point cushion on top of Group A with Poland as their final group stage opponent.
Earlier in the day Japan put together perhaps an even more impressive performance, shutting out the touted Mexico attack to the tune of 3-0 in Gdynia for their first win of the competition.
Which brings us to the hosts, who, after experiencing dismay in their debut, rapidly course-corrected by jumping all over Tahiti. It was a jubilant night for the home crowd, and Bialo-czerwoni will have everything on the line when first-place Senegal come to Lodz on Wednesday.
Goal of the day
Goal: 1-0 Jakub Bednarczyk (18')
What may have been: Ecuador have been awarded penalties in each of their opening two games, but La Tricolor have been unable to capitalise on either opportunity. With such fine margins separating them from their first two opponents, those misses might prove costly. “Penalties are something about confidence," offered head coach Jorge Celico. "We know that two players missed them. We really have to work on our confidence moving forward.”
Samurai pride: Few teams in football elicit more national coverage in world finals than Japan. Samurai Blue head coach Masanaga Kageyama's post-match press conference was flooded with media eager for his comments on their biggest win at a FIFA U-20 World Cup in 22 years. Check out the scene below, along with Kageyama's endearingly muted response to the win.
"There is no such thing as a perfect match. If this was, we would have won the World Cup already. There is always something to improve.”
Masanaga Kageyama (Japan coach)
“[Alessandro Plizzari] is a terrific goalkeeper and he showed that today as he made terrific saves, which allowed us to get this result. He’s been in with this group for a while and he’s worked his way up. I trust him a lot and I'm very pleased for him, especially as he’s not had the best of times recently, having lost his position with AC Milan.”
Paolo Nicolato (Italy coach)