With two games under the belts of both Groups A and B, their two sections’ star performers – hosts Korea Republic and Venezuela – can set off for new venues with the comfort of a place already sealed in the Round of 16.
The latter dazzled their way past Vanuatu, sinking seven beyond the tournament debutants, as well as seeing goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez claim some impressive FIFA U-20 World Cup history. Meanwhile, the Taeguk Warriors held their nerve to keep Argentina at bay in front of another feverish Jeonju crowd to join them.
Having similarly put the South Americans to the sword, England had high hopes against Guinea, but were met with a lively opposition who – with some help from the Young Lions – received two milestones for the price of one. Across in Daejeon, Germany’s stuttering start continued as they and Mexico both drew blanks.
Group A: England 1-1 Guinea | Korea Republic 2-1 Argentina
Group B: Venezuela 7-0 Vanuatu | Mexico 0-0 Germany
A first for Farinez
The points may have already been in the bag, but it was a surprising figure that strode up field after the referee pointed to the spot at 4-0 versus Vanuatu. Farinez shot to fame earlier this year when he stopped an Alexis Sanchez penalty in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, but here the boot was on the other foot. That did not matter, though, as he slotted it straight down the middle to become the first goalkeeper ever to score at the U-20 World Cup.
Lee Seungwoo has already proven that he seemingly has rockets in his boots, zipping around like lightning across the pitch against both Guinea and Argentina. But it was a different bolt he resembled most clearly when he struck the opener against La Albiceleste, wheeling away in front of the delirious Jeonju crowd and striking a pose reminiscent of Jamaican sprinting superstar Usain Bolt.
Firsts gifted to Guinea
Having not appeared at the U-20 World Cup since 1979, this is as good as a tournament debut for Guinea. Attending Japan 1979 and returning with nothing, not even a goal, they had plenty to achieve in Korea Republic. Beginning against the hosts in a raucous Jeonju was a re-baptism of fire, but against England they impressed and ultimately got their reward, if thanks to a huge slice of luck. The Young Lions’ Fikayo Tomori’s unfortunate own goal, labelled “freaky” by coach Paul Simpson, levelled the scores at 1-1 to earn the Africans both the first goal and maiden point they craved.
“We have to go step by step really. We have to think match by match, be calm and have our feet on the ground. We have confidence and a goalkeeper who scores!”
Ronaldo Pena, Venezuela.