July 12, 2007
U-20 World Cup - Round of 16 Day 1 - Extra time extravaganza
It was another thrilling day up in Canada, as three of the four Round of 16 matches went 120 minutes, with one ending in penalties. Let's hope today's action comes close to matching last night's drama.
USA 2-1 Uruguay (after extra time) - Heart, grit, determination. The good guys showed it all last night. It certainly wasn't their best performance, but the scoreline is all that matters. Things looked bleak after Luis Suarez's 73rd minute goal, but from there the US did nothing but press. I liked Rongen's introduction of Akpan and Ferrari after Altidore's injury, and it paid off. Akpan was right there on the tying goal, which left me breathless with extra time on the horizon. A lot of credit goes to Danny Szetela, who kept the play alive through hard work. And finally, Michael Bradley stepped up big. Hopefully Altidore's injury isn't that bad and the US got their hiccups out of the way, leaving them to play much better soccer on Saturday against...
Austria 2-1 Gambia - In the only match not to go to extra time yesterday, the Austrians used their numerical advantage to move into the Final 8. Tijan Jaiteh picked up a second yellow in the 43rd and the Austrians took advantage, taking the lead through Sebastian Proedl in first-half stoppage time. But surprise, surprise, as the Gambians pulled even in the 69th through Pierre Gomez. However, extra time was averted late when substitute Erwin Hoffer scored in the 81st.
Spain 4-2 Brazil (after extra time) - Vancouver saw the best game of the day, as Brazil bowed out in the Round of 16 for the first time in their history. And judging from the scoreline, one wouldn't think that the South Americans held a 2-0 lead at one time. But it's true, and Spain fought back valiantly, helped by a cheap goal on the way. The first half ended splendidly, with 3 goals in 5 minutes, the first two from Leandro Lima (on a sweet scissor kick) and Alexandre Pato, before Gerard Pique had a free kick deflect in off him to pull one back. Brazil started cramping up in the 2nd half and had to make numerous substitutions because of this. And the Spaniards took advantage, finally breaking through in the 84th to tie the game through Javi Garcia. The match continued back and forth into stoppage time, when Alberto Bueno broke through with a header from a nice cross from Capel to put Spain ahead. Just after the goal, Leandro Lima picked up two yellow cards to leave his team with 10 men. In the final minute, the tournament's leading scorer Adrian Lopez scored his 5th goal to close the deal. One of the best games of the tournament so far, and every other team is going to be licking their chops now that Brazil is gone.
Czech Republic 2-2 Japan (Czech Republic advances on penalty kicks 4-3) - It was penalties galore in Victoria, as the Czechs also fought back from a two-goal deficit to eventually beat Japan on penalty kicks. 3 of the 4 goals in regulation were scored on penalties, with the Czechs' tying penalties coming within four minutes of each other in the second half. In the shootout, Radek Petr came up big, stopping two kicks to send his team through. The Czechs now meet the Spaniards on Saturday for a spot in the semifinals.