In today’s FIFA U-20 World Cup games, coach Javier Mascherano’s hosting team Argentina faced off against Guatemala after group companions New Zealand and Uzbekistan clashed in Santiago del Estero.
Parallel to these games, the US team exchanged blows with Fiji’s squad, like Ecuador and Slovakia, on their pitch.
Argentina (3) – Guatemala (0)
This game had controversial pre-match vibes after Guatemala’s coaching staff accused Mascherano of spying on the visitor’s training sessions and tactical gatherings to gain an advantage on the field; Argentina’s superiority was shown nonetheless after a much-improved display on the pitch compared to the match against Uzbekistan.
Amongst the strong new appearances on the starting eleven was center-back Tomás Áviles, who used to play for the U-20 Chilean national team just a few months ago. He was kicked off the pitch with a red card due to a handball foul in the 82nd minute of the game). Juan Gauto, the wonder kid from local team Huracán, also made a good debut as a right-winger and got an assist in the game.
Local fans started celebrating early, as a great header from Argentina’s main striker Alejo Véliz graced the far post before the 20-minute mark. Lazio’s very own Luka Romero stretched the advantage with a great goal from outside the box in the second half. To close out the game, Premier League gem from Manchester City, Máximo Perrone, scored the third and final goal in the 98th minute.
Thanks to the tie between other teams in Group A, New Zealand and Uzbekistan, the hosts rose to the top of the group with 6 points and have now qualified for the sweet sixteen of the U-20 World Cup.
Ecuador (2) – Slovakia (1)
Another close call for the South American side, after Slovak offensive midfielder Máté Szlogai’s goal in the first half wrecked Ecuador’s scheme for the rest of the game. They were saved by Justin Cuero’s late equalizer at the end of the first half and José Andrés Sosa secured the win in the second, scoring a brutal rocket that went straight to the right top corner of the goal to buy 3 golden points for his squad.
With the handy victory, the “Tri” finds itself at the third spot of Group B, behind Slovakia who, although with the same amount of units, has a better goal ratio than the southamericans. At the top waits the United States with 6 points and a ticket to the round of 16 in it’s pocket. Fiji lies at the bottom of the group with 0 points.
New Zealand (2) – Uzbekistan (2):
Contrary to where the match seemed to be headed, the “All-Black” squad shook the last champions of the U-20 Asian tournament in a 2-2 draw at the “Madre de Ciudades” stadium in Santiago del Estero. Benjamin John Wallace and Jay Herdman scored for New Zealand, with the latter becoming the first contender for best goal of the tournament after scoring a screamer at the end of the first half.
Abbosbek Fayzzulaev was responsible for putting in the back of the net the first goal for Uzbekistan, after a whopping 30 strikes to the opposite goal that weren’t able to connect and give the team a better result.
In the last breath of the game, and with New Zealand against the ropes trying to hold on to the 3 points they so desperately wanted, Sherzod Esnaov was the hero from the bench for Uzbekistan after scoring a header in the 93rd minute of the game, sealing an electrifying match that was the prelude to Argentina-Guatemala.
Fayzzulaev was crowned as the man of the match and started catching the eyes of football fans all over the world.
United States (3) – Fiji (0):
Although the United States had a rocky game against Fiji, star player Jack McGlynn and the “Stars and Stripes” were able to beat the great performance in goal by Aydin Ashaz Mustahib.
After a scoreless first half, the U.S. got a goal from the feet of Diego Luna, who would be eligible to play for the Mexican team due to his ancestry but the country did not classify this year.
Added to the scoresheet were the players Cade Cowell and Caleb Wiley, who gave Fiji a coup de grâce when their spirit dropped in the final moments of the game.