France and Uruguay will be the final to decided the Under-20 World Champions on Saturday. Will Burns covers all the action from the two semi-finals below.
FRANCE 2-1 GHANA
France battled through their semi-final against a fearless Ghana side to reach the Under-20 World Cup final for the first time in their history, thanks to an inspirational performance from Lille winger Florian Thauvin.
A brace from the industrious winger saw Pierre Mankowski’s side surpass the Black Satellites, after the in-form Ebenezer Assifuah had drawn the African side level just after the interval despite the France finishing with ten men after Samuel Umtiti was sent-off late in the game.
The game began at a frenzied pace but it wasn’t until the right on half-time that Thauvin broke the deadlock. With a silky exchange of passes unlocking the Ghanaian defence, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck and Thauvin, with the impressive Lille midfielder slipping the ball past Eric Ofori Antwi to slot into the open goal.
The French lead was short-lived as Ghana flew into the second-half with Assifuah firing home superbly to draw level with Bruma and Jese Rodriguez at the top of the scorers charts with five goals. Fighting off pressure from Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, and he opened out on to his left foot and rifled an unstoppable effort in off the post.
Assifuah had a fantastic chance to give Ghana the lead, but only made minimal contact with the ball from a dangerous Acheampong cross, but they were made to pay when Thauvin struck again soon after. Picking the ball up on the right wing, the man-of-the-match cut inside onto his left and drilled the ball into the bottom corner.
A second yellow card for Umtiti made for a nervy final ten minutes for France and a final save from Areola, tipping over from Assifuah, saw them into the final.
IRAQ 1-1 URUGUAY
URUGUAY WIN 7-6 ON PENS
The Iraqi dream is finally over but they can head home with their heads held high after leading their semi-final against South American giants Uruguay for the majority of the match.
The Asians were finally defeat by the Uruguayans 7-6 on penalties which sees the South Americans reach their first Under-20 World Cup final in 16 years.
Once again Ali Adnan was Iraq’s star player and his outrageous free-kick opened the scoring on 34 minutes gave his team the lead. A foul by defender Diego Laxalt gave the Iraqis a free-kick wide on the right side of the box in a seemingly harmless position. Adnan stood over it and, with goalkeeper Guillermo De Amores anticipating a cross, the defender curled an daring effort into the near top corner of the goal.
Uruguay were shell-shocked and the Iraqis pressed on, looking the more likely to double their lead than conceed. However, Nico Lopez had a chance early in the second-half, but his attempted lob was wayward following a neat lofted through ball by Giorgian De Arrascaeta. In the process trying to defend the on-rushing goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed and Adnan nastily collided and had to tended to that left them bandaged and battered.
Adnan then went close to another spectacular goal, firing from distance with another free-kick, while De Arrascaeta forced a save from Hameed, showing that there was still plenty of life in the Uruguayans.
Deigo Rolan and Gonzalo Bueno both had opportunities as they looked to force extra-time and the lifeline they needed. They edged closer when Bueno rattled the bar from De Arrascaeta’s corner as Iraq dug their heels as they tried to hold on for the final whistle.
Iraq’s efforts were in vain as Uruguay’s three substitutes combined to make it 1-1. Rolan’s cross found Felipe Avenatti, who headed down in the area for Bueno to volley in a dramatic 87th minute equaliser.
The extra-time came and went and it was to be another penalty shootout for Iraq, and while the opening pair of Gianni Rodriguez and Ali Faez missed, it came down to Saif Salman’s effort high over the bar that decided the game.
Click the name above to follow Will on Twitter.