With the last eight bidding to become the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017’s elite quartet, we were treated to a pair of intense encounters that spanned more than four hours of football.
Venezuela and Uruguay came out on top as the first semi-final was set in stone.
It will be a first appearance at this stage for Venezuela, who are guaranteed to equal their best-ever showing at a FIFA tournament, but they were made to work for it. They lay siege to the USA goal for most of the 120 minutes, through bad luck and wayward finishing, but eventually escaped with a slender 2-1 victory.
Uruguay and Portugal were far more evenly matched. Going blow for blow after Xande Silva had netted the eighth-fastest goal in U-20 World Cup history they needed an epic shootout to decide the affair. Five successive penalties were missed – after eight in a row scored – with goalkeeper Santiago Mele saving three to swing the tide in Uruguay’s favour.
Quarter-finals: Venezuela 2-1 USA (AET) | Portugal 2-2 Uruguay (4-5 PSO)
Penaranda’s persistence pays off
To say Venezuela were the dominant side against USA is fairly unarguable. Their 20 attempts on goal to the Stars and Stripes’ seven does not paint the full picture of a match beset by scrambles, saves and rattling of woodwork. The most glaring of misses arguably fell to Adalberto Penaranda, miscuing wide of an open net after seeing the ball ricochet to his feet. He made amends, though, slotting home incisively early in extra-time to break the American resistance and help send Venezuela deservedly through.
Peixe left incredulous
Sometimes there are moments in football that leave you in disbelief – Mario Mandzukic’s UEFA Champions League final strike springs to mind. At pitch-side, the game’s exceptional moments are often all the more awe-inspiring. This certainly seemed the case when Portugal coach Peixe witnessed his side’s second goal. Diogo Goncalves’ wicked, curling strike was a thing of beauty, but the 1991 adidas Golden Ball winner could only bury his head in his hands, not believing his eyes, before wildly gesturing his astonishment to his similarly stunned assistants.
New York-New York
While the midfield in USA and Venezuela’s clash may have been lacking a little apple at kick-off, namely Yeferson ‘Manzanita’ Soteldo, there was plenty of Big Apple to go around. The first half in fact featured a New York derby in microcosm, with Venezuela captain Yangel Herrera representing the blue corner of New York City and Tyler Adams of USA in the white and red corner of New York Red Bulls. And, like any derby worth its salt, it was an intense one, with the Yankee Stadium outfit seeing their horse win this particular race.
ABBA’s debut release
Fans in Daejeon were treated to the first ever showing of a new penalty order– often nicknamed the ‘ABBA’ system – at a FIFA tournament. Much like a tennis tie-breaker, the first side (Team A) takes a single penalty, before Team B follows by having two. Team A then has two more and so on until they have had five each, then continuing into sudden death. Santiago Bueno was the man who brought it to an epic close.
“We practised penalties a lot yesterday in training because we knew that today could go to a shootout against this great team. I like the new ABBA system because it means nobody ends up chasing the other.”
Fabian Coito, Uruguay coach.