Tournament favourites Colombia and Mexico failed to find winning starts on Saturday afternoon as hosts Turkey got their campaign underway with a great 3-0 victory over underdogs El Salavdor later.
COLOMBIA 1-1 AUSTRALIA
The youngest player in the tournament grabbed an important goal for Australia as they managed to clinch a point against a much favoured Colombia. Sixteen-year-old Daniel De Silva of Perth Glory scoring a goal just after half-time to put the Young Socceroos in the lead but a late Jhon Cordoba goal salvaged a point for a disappointing Colombian side.
Australia more than deserved their point in an evenly matched encounter and had looked set for an Aussie victory until Cordoba restored parity 13 minutes from time.
Due to their successes in South America, Colombia has established them as one of the pre-tournament favourites, but they found themselves up against a positive Aussie side. Paul Okon’s team proved just as capable as the Los Cafeteros playing slick, incisive football, and one such move almost ended with Joshua Brillante surging through for an early goal.
Australia pressed for a goal and went closer just midway through the first half when energetic left winger Connor Pain slid in to beat the goalkeeper Cristian Bonilla but could only look on in agony as his low effort was cleared off the line by Jherson Vergera. Colombia’s best effort, meanwhile, came from a left-footed free-kick from Juan Fernando Quintero. The man nicknamed the ’Colombian Messi’ sent a wonderful shot which was zipping goalwards at some pace when goalkeeper Paul Izzo got across to tip it over.
Quintero was a presence throughout, but he ended up finding himself in the shadow of the game’s headline-maker, the 16-year-old Daniel De Silva. The young midfielder made a dream start to the second half, bursting into the penalty area just a minute of the restart running onto a chipped through ball from Pain. The youngest player in the tournament flicked a shot with the outside of his right boot that Bonilla failed to stop even though he got his hands to the ball on the way into the goal.
Shocked, Colombia eagerly went forward and after Andres Renteria blasted wide from close range, it took some fine goalkeeping from Izzo to deny both Quintero and Andres Correa.
The South Americans would not got back to the hotel empty handed with 13 minutes remaining they found a goal. Striker Jhon Cordoba, who had been disappointing throughout ensured a share of the spoils with a precise right-foot finish into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.
TURKEY 3-0 EL SALVADOR
Host nation Turkey made a winning start to their Under-20 World Cup campaign by convincingly beating El Salvador 3-0 at the Huseyin Avni Aker Stadium in Trabzon.
Turkey did not always hit the heights against their unfancied Central American opponents but strikes from the inspiring pair, Salih Ucan and Cenk Sahin secured a secure triumph that leaves Feyyaz Ucar’s side sitting top of Group C.
Ucan and Sahin were a constant hazard to the El Salvadorian defence and they combined to a lethal consequence after just nine minutes. Sahin did the approach work, bursting down the right wing and zipping in a low cross that Ucan hit first time, smashing the back of the net from inside the box.
Turkey dominated but had to wait until the beginning of the second half to double their lead. Again, it was Ucan and Sahin causing the damage but this time, roles were reversed. Ucan became creator, slipping through a defence-splitting pass for Sahin, who hopped around goalkeeper Rolando Morales and side-footed into the open goal.
The right winger’s pace was proving too much for El Salvador’s defence and just after the hour mark the games’ outcome was put beyond any doubt.
MEXICO 1-2 GREECE
In a shock result, Greece defeated Mexico 2-1 in a smash and grab victory with Dimitrios Kolovos scoring a fine goal in the dying minutes.
The Mexicans were under control throughout, but went behind to a goal from Andreas Bouchlakis, before Jorge Espericueta levelled the game with wonderful free-kick. However, against the run-of-play, Kolovos struck to give the Greeks a huge win over one of the tournament favourites.
Mexico started well but were limited to long distance efforts until the 14th minute. A corner delivered deep was fired towards goal, with goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino doing superbly to keep out the deflected shot. The ball sat up nicely for Mexican captain Antonio Briseno to head towards the empty goal, only for Greek captain Konstantinos Stafylidis to clear off the ball off the line.
It was a lucky escape for Greece and gave them confidence, so much that within two minutes they were a goal ahead. Dimitrios Kourmpelis fed attacker Dimitrios Diamantakos who dound space down the left side of the penalty area. He fired back a ball to Andreas Bouchalakis who submissively side-footed in at the far post. Goalkeeper Richard Sanchez stood no chance and picked the ball out of the goal.
The desperate Mexico searched for the equaliser and dominated the possession but to no avail, until their efforts were rewarded with Espericueta’s spectacular free-kick five minutes before half-time. From more than 25 yards out, he struck a fierce, curling strike that left Kapino helpless. The electrifying midfielder had previously shown a lot of promise at the Under-17 World Cup in his homeland two years ago and he looked keen to show more here.
After the break, Greece exploded out of the tunnel and looked for another goal with Panagoitis Ballas surging forward before unleashing a thunderous drive, which Sanchez did well to get a fingertip to. At the other end, Mexican starlet Jesus Corona hit back in similar style, with Kapino turning his long-range effort wide.
The chance of the game came when Raul Lopez’s deep cross mislead Kapino, only to see Jose Corona headed over the open goal from just four yards, he held his head in his hands after the miss. Kapino then produced a fine save with his feet to deny Marco Bueno as the clock began to run out.
As time went on, Greece provided the hammer blow with just two minutes remaining. Kolovos became the hero, turning on the edge of the box, before firing a powerful shot past Sanchez to claim a first appearance victory for the Greeks.
PARAGUAY 1-1 MALI
Paraguay and Mali battled to a 1-1 draw in Gaziantep on Saturday evening, after both scored inside seven minutes in their first game of the tournament.
The Africans stunned Paraguay after just three minutes, when a route one ball left the Paraguayan defence in a right mess. Wasting two opportunities to clear their lines, Nantes striker Adama Niane took advantage to fire past the shocked goalkeeper Diego Morel.
They were not ahead for long, just four minutes in fact, with Jorge Rojas settling his side’s frayed nerves. Mali’s defence were thrown into disarray when a cross was drilled along the edge of the box, with Rojas chesting the ball down and firing into the bottom left corner. The Cerro Porteno wide-man looked a constant threat in the early stages, cutting inside, running at defenders and keen to cross into the box whenever he could.
It was a fair point for both sides, but a much happier Mali side rather than their South American opponents.
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