Today, the teams in Group C and Group D all got their U20 World Cup campaigns underway with high hopes for all the sides competing before the action began in the Korean Republic on Matchday Two. Here’s how today’s action panned out:
Zambia U20s 2-1 Portugal U20s-Group C (14:00 Korean time)
Zambia nearly took an early lead when Musonda Siame found space down the left and pulled his cross back to Conlyde Luchanga on the edge of the box, whose shot was palmed away by the Portuguese stopper, Diogo Costa. Portugal had a chance of their own when Diogo Goncalves controlled a pull-back but he blasted his shot straight at Zambia keeper, Mangani Banda.
After the interval, Zambia took the lead when Enock Mwepu skipped past a challenge inside the box, with his powerful effort palmed to the side by Costa, however, Edward Chilufya was on hand to tap home into an empty net. Portugal had a chance to equalise when Goncalves got to the byline and his deflected cross looped up into the air, with Andre Ribeiro poking his volley over the bar and it wouldn’t be long until Portugal were ruing that miss when Fashion Sakala got past Portugal skipper Ruben Dias and fired past Costa at his near post to make it 2-0 Zambia. Goncalves fired wide of the post from 20 yards in desperation of a consolation goal and Portugal would get this in added time when Xande Silva’s effort was pushed away by Banda, but Helder Ferreira was on hand to cleanly volley home into the bottom corner from 18 yards. The game ended 2-1 to Zambia.
Iran U20s 1-0 Costa Rica U20s-Group C (17:00 Korean time)
In the other Group C encounter of the day, Iran got off to a good start when Mehdi Mehdikhani picked up on a poor first touch from a Costa Rican defender but his drilled effort from 20 yards was comfortable enough for Erick Pineda. Iran went close again when the ball was played out towards Reza Shekari on the far right, however, Pineda was alert and met Shekari as he attempted to control. In the second half, Iran again went close but Mehdikhani fired over the bar when off balance. Jafari’s header from an Iran corner kick smacked off the post and out for a goal-kick, before Ali Shojaei’s corner almost caught Pineda out, who managed to tip it over the bar just in time.
Iran got the only goal of the game when a cross from the right was brought down onto his left foot by Mehdikhani, who squeezed the ball inside Pineda’s near post for 1-0. Costa Rica searched for an equaliser, and Randall Leal came the closest when his rising 25-yard effort sailed just over the crossbar. The North Americans had the final chance of the game, when Leal attempted to curl a shot inside the far post from the edge of the area, however, saw it sail harmlessly over.
South Africa U20s 1-2 Japan U20s-Group D (17:00 Korean time)
South Africa took an early lead seven minutes into the game when Luther Singh clipped a ball over the top towards Grant Margeman, who brought the ball down and got his shot off, with it being deflected on its way in by a Japanese defender. From a scramble in the box from a Japan corner, striker Koki Ogawa hooked his shot against the angle of post and bar. A few minutes after the half-time break, Yuto Iwasaka’s low cross was flicked in by Ogawa, despite keeper Mondi Mpoto’s best efforts to keep the ball out. Japan continued to create chances, with Ogawa being denied by an onrushing Mpoto from Takefusa Kubo’s disguised pass behind the defence. Japan took the lead though, and eventually the winner, when Ritsu Doan played a first-time pass on to substitute Kubo, who cut the ball back immediately for Doan to sweep home the winner, out of the reach of keeper Mpoto. In the closing stages of the match, Ogawa’s pull-back toward the edge of the box was met by the right foot of Keita Endo, but Mpoto got down well to keep the shot out.
Uruguay U20s 1-0 Italy U20s-Group D (20:00 Korean time)
Uruguay got off to a good start when Nicolas De La Cruz cut inside from the right and laid the ball off for Nicolas Schiappacasse, whose first time shot was forced over the bar by Andrea Zaccagno. Uruguay were awarded a penalty just before half-time when Joaquin Ardaiz was hauled to the floor by Giuseppe Scalera as he attempted to steer a low cross from De La Cruz into the goal. Scalera was shown a yellow card for his efforts. Uruguay captain De La Cruz was the man who stepped up to the spot, but his kick from 12 yards was wonderfully held by Zaccagno, who dived low to his right in order to save the penalty.
After the interval, Italy came out strong, with captain Rolando Mandrogora seeing his speculative 25-yard shot tipped over the bar by Uruguay stopper Santiago Mele. Schiappacasse dragged his shot wide of the post following a long ball through from right-back Santiago Bueno before Uruguay took the lead in stunning fashion. De La Cruz was brought down to the right side of the box, just outside, by Giuseppe Pezzella, who was booked for his late challenge. Rodrigo Amaral stepped up to the plate and drove his 20-yard free-kick into the top right-hand corner of Zaccagno’s net to win the game for Uruguay.