Tournament favourites Spain and France were unconvincing, Nigeria are starting to show promise and Portugal and Korea Republic played out a great game. But overall, it was a bit of an anti-climatic matchday four in the Under-20 World Cup – the disappointed Will Burns describes the action.
FRANCE 1-1 USA
The United States grabbed a vital 1-1 draw against France in Istanbul on Monday afternoon, but in reality they should have took all three points. Santos Laguna forward Daniel Cuevas came off the bench and scored an 85th-minute leveller giving Tab Ramos’s side their first point of the tournament.
The French looked a shadow of their former selves after a dominating 3-1 win over Ghana just three days ago. But it was France that opened the scoring with Yaya Sanogo scoring from the penalty spot on 47th minutes after Javan Torre was judged to fouling Dmitri Foulquier. Replays showed that the officials got this one wrong as the fouled was committed outside the penalty area.
The United States had their chances and played much better than their opening game of a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Spain. Mario Rodriguez then had a goal disallowed in the 60th minute, as he was called offside before chipping the ball over goalkeeper Alphonse Areola into the net.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil had a glorious opportunity to pull the Americans level in the 65th minute, after Rodriguez was tripped in the area and the referee pointed to the spot. Areola saved the spot kick and moments later Jean-Christophe Bahebeck smashed a long-range effort the crossbar, preventing France gaining all three points.
France now must face Spain in the final game of the group as the Americans go up against Ghana.
SPAIN 1-0 GHANA
Spain became the first side to advance to the knockout round of the tournament in a uninspiring 1-0 win over Ghana, which on the balance of play they did not deserve to win.
The only real chance for the Spanish came in the 13th minute when Denis Suarez took a long ball and sent a pass to an unmarked Jese who tapped it in. It was the Real Madrid man’s third goal of the tournament.
Ghana dominated possession in the second half and had the better chances but struggled to finish or challenge goalkeeper Daniel Sotres. A strong header from Frank Acheapong went inches wide in the 55th minute and then Yiadome Boakye fired a great chance just over the bar minutes later. Ghana’s Ebenezer Assifuah was taken down in the area in injury time by defender Israel Puerto but no penalty was called.
CUBA 0-3 NIGERIA
Nigeria got their campaign back on track as they recovered from their opening defeat to Portugal to cruise past Cuba 3-0 in Kayseri on Monday afternoon.
Nigeria were unable to break down the stubborn Cubans early in the game but on 20 minutes the Africans opened the scoring. Nigeria’s man of the moment Abdul Ajagun fed Olarenwaju Kayode down the left wing, who got clear of the defence, before squaring to Aminu Umar to tap home.
Umar doubled his tally four minutes later, which had a touch of elegance to it. Osuchukwu’s deep corner eventually found Abdullahi Shehu, who drilled a cross that Umar flicked between his legs and into the bottom corner.
Nigeria were in full control, and that continued into the second-half, Olarenwaju Kayode breaking beyond the back line and firing wide across goal. He charged forward in similar style moments later, but in choosing to square to Ajagun, defender Abel Martinez was able to clear off the line.
Ajagun did get his deserved goal though, with 67 minutes on the clock. Kingsley Madu’s cross deceived goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez and Ajagun stooped to head home, seeing him become the top-scorer so far. Ajagun missed the chance to double his tally for the day late on, missing from the penalty spot after Martinez upended Kayode in the area.
Cuba become the first team to pack their bags for home this year.
PORTUGAL 2-2 KOREA REPUBLIC
Portugal were held to a 2-2 draw with Korea Republic in the most entertaining game of the day to leave Group B wide open going into the final games.
The Portuguese started well with Aladje securing his second goal of the tournament on just three minutes, with the striker out-jumping everyone to head home from a corner.
Aladje and Bruma played similar roiles to the opening game and they were proving to be an effective threat although they failed to create another goal in the first half.
Ten minutes before the break, Korea finally got up and running, they managed to make their pressure count right on the stroke of half-time. A fortunate bounce saw the ball fall to Ryu Seungwoo on the edge of the area, where he skipped past Tiago Ilori and fired past goalkeeper Jose Sa.
Portugal’s menacing pair were back at it after the break and fifteen minutes in the second period Bruma had his name on the scoresheet for his third of the tournament. The Koreans failed to clear their lines and the Sporting Lisbon striker knocked the ball out of his feet to fire a rasping drive into the bottom right-hand corner.
The only one of the dangerous forwards not yet on the scoresheet and Kim Hyun was not to be denied. Spome tremendous work from left-back Sim Sangmin supplied the goal, charging from deep, he exchanged a neat one-two with Han Sunggyu before cutting back perfectly for Hyun to tap in for a beautifully worked goal.
Portugal almost snatched victory, courtesy of the energetic Bruma again. A well-disguised free-kick found the forward all alone in the penalty area on the stroke of 90 minutes, but a superb save by Lee Changgeun ensured Korea the point.
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