FIFA U-20: England squeak past Uruguay in La Plata spectacle

The sideshow was served by France and Gambia in Mendoza

Englandbeats Uruguay in U-20 World Cup. Source: Télam

In yesterday’s FIFA U-20 World Cup games, Uruguay and England gave a match for the ages while almighty France clashed with the revelation of the tournament, Gambia.

Thursday evening was completed by matches between Iraq and Tunisia to close Group E for the day, and South Korea and Honduras to wrap up Group F’s second match day. 

Uruguay (2) – England (3)

A rainy day in La Plata was the setting for the main dish of the afternoon, as two heavyweight teams clashed in the Estadio Único Diego Armando Maradona. Uruguay was on a roll before the match after their 4-0 victory over Iraq in the first bout. England, on the other hand, managed to pull a narrow win against Tunisia by 1 goal to nil. 

But Bashir Humphrey’s smashing header in the 22nd minute of the first half made the entire stadium start doubting their pre-game predictions. From there, the flow of the game changed in favor of the Brits, as they extended the lead to 2-0 up in the final moments of the first half with a goal from Alfie Devine. 

Offensive midfielder Franco González Fernández got the chance to shake the boots of the English squad for a while, as his open goal finish kept the game alive til the last minute. The last 10 minutes of this match will be remembered for a while, after Darko Gyabi’s lovely inside the box goal in the 95th minute and Matías Abaldo’s close quarter bomb in the small area with one minute to go transformed La Plata into a boiler room. 

With the win, England leaps to first position with 6 points, leaving their main rival, Uruguay, in second position with 3 points. Tunisia is third, even though it has as many points as the South Americans, due to its goal ratio. Iraq watches from below with 0 points. 

France (1) – Gambia (2)

Gambia rose to the occasion one more time and threw France against the ropes early thanks to an unfortunate own goal by Tanguy Zoukrou. But that wasn’t enough, because after many minutes of dominance by the African side, a crucial penalty stop from Les Bleus goalkeeper, Yann François Lienard, to the Gambian center back Alagie Saine at the 58-minute mark breathed new life into France’s game, who scored shortly after a header from Wilson Odobert. 

Nonetheless, the dreams of the Europeans to finally take the reins of the bout were smashed by a world class dribble and finish inside the box by Mamin Sanyang in the 68th minute, to return the 3 points of the game to the runner-up of the African U-20 Cup. 

Gambia now rocks the first position of Group F with a perfect record, followed closely by South Korea. France is now in a tight spot, and will try to grasp a ticket to the sweet sixteen as one of the teams with “best” record in third place, with Honduras standing in the way. 

Iraq (0) – Tunisia (3)

Not exactly a nail biter. The victory of Tunisia gave spice to Group E’s last match day. With an English squad already in the final sixteen of the tournament, the African team will face a hand to hand combat with Uruguay for the last direct ticket to the sweet sixteen. 

All the magic was focused on two twin plays that brought the only goals of the match, the first one resulting in a magical first touch finish from Youssef Snana at the 55th minute, and the second with a sliding strike from Chaim El Djebali at the 58th. Tunisia spent the last 15 minutes of the game with one man down after Rayan Nasraoui was ruled out. In that time, the “Eagles of Carthage” sealed the deal with a penalty goal from defender Mahmoud Ghorbel. 

South Korea (2) – Honduras (2)

An explosive matchup no one foresaw. The protagonist of the evening, Honduras midfielder, David Ruiz, scored the first goal of the game from the penalty spot at the 22nd minute, only to give more thrills five minutes later after being kicked off the pitch with a red card. 

Despite the setback, Honduras kept on pushing, and found peace with a goal from the boots of Isaac Emanuel Castillo Díaz 51 minutes in. Still, the Asian squad got a chance to take advantage of their manpower and rescued the draw with goals by Kim Yong-Hak and Seung-Ho Park. 

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