Italy, Nigeria, Brazil, Colombia advance in U-20 World Cup
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP):
Italy, Nigeria, Colombia and a 10-man Brazil line-up advanced to the quarter-finals of the Under-20 World Cup yesterday.
Hosts Argentina lost 2-0 to Nigeria in front of almost 30,000 fans in San Juan, ending an unlikely campaign. Italy eliminated England with a 2-1 victory, thanks to a late goal from the spot.
Brazil thrashed Tunisia 4-1 despite being a player down for the entire second half, and Colombia topped Slovakia 5-1 with three of their goals scored in a four-minute span.
Nigeria will take on either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round.
Brazil face Israel in the quarter-finals, and Colombia will play Italy.
Argentina did not arrive at the U-20 World Cup as one of the favourites. Argentina, coached by Javier Mascherano, did not qualify initially and only got a spot at the tournament when they replaced Indonesia as hosts. Heavy home support after the senior men's World Cup title was expected to boost the youngsters.
But after Argentina wasted several opportunities throughout the match, the Nigerians punished them twice in the second half. A goal kick ended in a defensive mistake and a clear chance for Ibrahim Muhammad, who scored in the 61st minute.
Argentina continued to pressure, hitting the woodwork twice. A late Nigerian counter-attack ended in a header by Rilwanu Haliru Sarki just before the final whistle.
"We played a great match," Mascherano said in a post-match TV interview. "We knew that if we made some mistakes, we might have to pay, and regrettably, the two mistakes we made brought them two goals."
Italy started strongly against England and scored in the 8th minute after a sequence of quick passes that put Tommaso Baldanzi in front of the goalkeeper. England equalised with Alfie Devine scoring from close range in the 24th. A stalemate settled in at the La Plata Stadium, one of the poorest pitches in the tournament.
But a video-reviewed decision nearing full-time gave Italy a chance from the spot. Cesare Casadei stepped up and scored his fifth goal of the tournament to secure the win and put the Italians through.
Earlier, Marcos Leonardo opened the scoring for Brazil in the 11th minute from the spot, his fourth goal at the tournament. Andrey Santos added a second from close range in the 31st.
Defender Robert Renan was sent off shortly before the break, and Tunisia had the initiative for most of the second half, but Brazil scored twice in injury time through Matheus Martins and Santos.