England Under-20 team chases rare global title vs Venezuela
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) If England defeats Venezuela in the final of the Under-20 World Cup on Sunday, the country will celebrate its first soccer world title for more than 50 years.
Since winning the World Cup back in 1966 on home soil, England has underachieved on the global stage.
“It’s our time,” said Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke, who has scored four goals in the tournament. “The determination we have is what drives us on. We know that even if we’re losing, we can bring it back.”
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England has won five of six games to get to the final at Suwon World Cup Stadium. After topping Group A with wins over six-time champion Argentina and host South Korea, England has defeated Costa Rica, Mexico and Italy.
That 3-1 semifinal victory was the most impressive after Italy took a second-minute lead. England replied with two goals from Solanke and another from Ademola Lookman, who joined English Premier League team Everton in January.
Venezuela was the most impressive performer in the group stage, defeating Mexico, Germany and Vanuatu, scoring 10 goals and not conceding any.
In three knockout stage games, however, the team has needed extra time to eliminate Japan, the United States and Uruguay. Venezuela defeated the South American champion 4-3 in a penalty shootout with goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez the hero.
“We have to remember that we’re Venezuela, that we’re a team and a country that’s coming on fast,” Farinez said. “Reaching a World Cup final is a turning point we’ve been looking for for a while. For the last 2 1/2 years we’ve been thinking that this is our time.”