FIFA U-20: Colombia clinches sweet 16 with familiar names

Brazil gets first win by 6-0, Nigeria stops Italy and Senegal can’t get past Israel

Today’s FIFA U20 World Cup fixtures saw plenty of action. In Group D, Italy and Nigeria played a key clash while Brazil looked to recover from their debut against the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile Group C saw Colombia seeking to improve against Japan as Israel and Senegal looked for their first win.

Colombia (2) – Japan (1)

Colombia hadn’t shown their best in their debut, as it was only a 90th-minute goal by Gustavo Puerta and some heroics by goalkeeper Luis Marquínez that secured the three points against a well-drilled Israel side. Still, they were tied on points with Japan, meaning whomever won would be qualified.

This time the Cafeteros looked much better from the start, with a quick and snappy style of play looking to break a deep defense by the Japanese. Still, Japan managed to hit first; a terrific set play from a corner allowed Riku Yamane a clear chance to make it 1-0. With their lead, Japan dug their heels deep, allowing Colombia to keep most of the ball but limiting the South American team to mostly long range efforts, unable to hurt them.

The Cafeteros nearly fell for the same trap twice as Japan once again got a clear chance from a set play off a corner, but the fact that it missed snapped them back into the game. Getting the lead would come down to Colombian national team heirs Yasser Asprilla and Tomás Ángel — sons of national players Faustino Asprilla and Juan Pablo Ángel. The first would score from a low cross by fullback Andrés Salazar in the 53rd minute. Just six minutes later, it would be Ángel who made it 2-1 from a similar play.

However, the match had one more piece of drama, when Jhohan Torres committed a penalty as he covered his face with his hands. With a chance to draw the game, Japanese captain Kuryu Matsuki crashed it into the crossbar. Colombia had to finish the game defending deep but in the end it was another three points for the Cafeteros, who have now qualified for the sweet 16 stage.

Brazil (6) – Dominican Republic (0)

In the other game with the 6pm kick-off, Brazil looked to recover from their debut defeat going up against the Dominican Republic in the Malvinas Argentinas stadium in Mendoza. Arguably the weakest side in the group, the Caribbean team faced an authentic barrage by the Verdeamarelha and goalkeeper Xavier Valdez was giving one of the best performances of the tournament; however, it was only a matter of time before Brazil found a breach. 

This would come in the 37th minute as winger Sávio de Oliveira scored with an assist from Guillherme Biró; just a minute later, Marcos Leonardo scored, making it 2-0 before half time. In the second half, Brazil reminded everyone why they are one of the tournament’s favorites with a resounding 6-0 win, although they will still need a victory in their upcoming game against Nigeria to qualify for the sweet 16 round.

Nigeria (2) – Italy (0)

It was precisely the Flying Eagles who earlier in the day dealt a big blow to Italy. In a back and forth game, there would be controversy in the first half as the clear handball offense by a Nigerian defender was overruled as VAR showed there was another handball by an Italian just before. 

However, it would be Italy’s naivety in defense that would actually cost them, as they were caught distracted from a throw-in and Salim Figo Lawal made it 1-0. The Azzurra remained slow and predictable in attack, with their star midfielder Cesare Casadei leaving much to be desired. Instead, Nigeria’s Sunday Jude was the one to shine, scoring for the African side’s 2-0 win. 

Nigeria still needs to win their next game against Brazil to confirm their place in the next round.

Senegal (1) vs. Israel (1)

Both Senegal and Israel wanted a win to recover after their initial losses against Japan and Colombia respectively. There was big support for the Young Lions at the Estadio Único de La Plata, but it would not be enough. Despite a clear superiority in the game, with striker Souleymane Faye one of the best of the game, they struggled to translate chances into goals. They went 1-0 down after an own goal by centreback Babacar Ndiaye and they were only saved by an 80th minute header by Pape Diop to finish with a 1-1 draw.

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