Friday, July 13, 2007

U20 World Cup Round of 16: July 12

Chile 1-0 Portugal
Zambia 1-2 Nigeria
Argentina 3-1 Poland
Mexico 3-0 Congo

All the quarter-final matches I've seen have been fantastic, but for about 80 minutes, I thought that Portugal v. Chile was going to be the exception. I don't know if the Portuguese team was missing their injured captain Bruno Gama or what, but they just weren't on their game yesterday. Chile took the lead just before the break, Arturo Vidal scoring off a free kick, and although Portugal got it together a bit in the second half, they never really looked like they thought they could win. And then it all deteriorated into a farce in injury time, with Mano sent off for scuffling with on of the Chilean players, Zequinha trying to prevent it by snatching the red card out of the referee's hand and being sent to the showers as well, and then Chile losing Vidal a couple minutes later after a second yellow for time-wasting. It was sort of reminiscent of Portugal-Holland at the World Cup, except with extra hot-headed teenage idiocy.

In the other game I saw, Poland jumped out to a surprise lead against Argentina, with Dawid Janczyk beating the offside trap and finishing coolly. But Argentina took less than 10 minutes to equalize, through a gorgeous flowing move created by Maxi Moralez, who scurried past a couple of defenders, played a one-two with Sergio Aguero and then squared the ball across the net for Angel di Maria to sweep home. The Argentines dominated possession all game, with Aguero scoring again just after halftime and then adding a third late on. The result sets up an intriguing quarter-final against Mexico on Sunday -- a rematch of the semi-final between the senior teams in the Copa America.

Finally, in the other two matches, Congo conceded a penalty to Mexico in the first half and then had a player sent off, but held on bravely before giving up two more late goals, while Nigeria edged out Zambia in a tight contest between the two African teams.

So here's how the quarter-finals shape up:

Austria v. USA
Spain v. Czech Republic

Chile v. Nigeria
Argentina v. Mexico

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