Thursday, July 12, 2007

U20 World Cup Round of 16: July 11

Austria 2-1 Gambia
USA 2-1 Uruguay (aet)
Spain 4-2 Brazil (aet)
Japan 2-2 Czech (3-4 on penalties)

Yay, Spain! I was sure I'd jinxed them when they gave up two goals in about two minutes in the first half. But the U20s apparently haven't learned how to choke yet. They pulled one back before halftime, as Gerard Pique bundled a free kick into the net with his arm (but let's not dwell on that), and got a late equalizer from another free kick, taken quickly by Javi Garcia to catch Brazilian keeper Cassio off guard.

Brazil had a couple good chances in extra time, but it was Spain who scored first, and the Brazilians then went down to 10 men as Lima was sent off for dissent. With the numerical advantage, Spain kept pressing and wore Brazil down, scoring again in the 120th minute to kill them off and ensure that I still have somebody to cheer for.

Actually, all four of the games yesterday were pretty entertaining. The USA went behind to Uruguay early on, but tied it up with an own-goal late in the game, and then Michael Bradley scored in extra time to refute the accusations of nepotism and almost make me like his team momentarily. (And then there was a brawl after the final whistle, because it seems that Uruguay are really, really bad losers.)

Austria took the lead against Gambia, who once again had a man sent off but still managed to equalize, before Erwin "Jimmy" Hoffa* came off the bench to clinch the win for Austria. And Japan was up 2-0 against the Czech Republic, but then gave up two spot-kicks in three minutes and went on to lose on penalties, in an enthralling battle of shaved heads versus extravagant anime hair.**

* This is really what they call him. Hee.

** Best hair of the day, though, goes to the USA's Andre Akpan, although sadly I can't find a decent picture of the giant burnt sienna fro he was rocking. EDIT: Thanks to YNBA, here it is, in all its dubious glory.

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