U-20 World Cup roundup: Brazil, Mali, Serbia, Senegal book tickets to the semifinals
With so much at stake in the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, all eight teams were very cautious in their game plans. That mindset was reflected in the final scores, as no game saw more than two goals scored and three of the four matches being decided in penalties.
Brazil 0-0 (PKs, 3-1) Portugal
After battling to a scoreless draw against Uruguay and advancing on penalties in the round of 16, Brazil kept the trend going against Portugal in the quarterfinals. The Portuguese were the better side throughout the match but were wasteful with their opportunities, something that carried over into the penalty shootout. Raphael Guzzo looked silly when he tried to chip down the middle, only to have Brazilian keeper Jean stand his ground and make his easiest save of the match.
Mali 1-1 (PKs, 4-3) Germany
Mali madness! The West African underdogs continue their improbable run into the semifinals after taking down the favorites Germany. With the Germans leading 1-0, Hany Mukhtar should have doubled the lead but saw his penalty kick saved by Djigui Diarra. Two minutes later, Mali equalized and then held strong to force extra-time. The best story of the tournament, the Mali players have become fan favorites down under.
USA 0-0 (PKs, 5-6) Serbia - (FULL RECAP)
The United States’ run at the U-20 World Cup came to an end after a nine-round penalty shootout against Serbia. The U.S. was lucky to keep the Serbians off the scoresheet in 120 minutes of play, with much praise due to goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who made a few key saves and enjoyed an excellent tournament overall. Despite being outplayed in the round of 16 against Colombia and again versus Serbia, the U.S. showed great resilience in what will be deemed a very successful tournament for Tab Ramos and his young players.
Uzbekistan 0-1 Senegal
The only quarterfinal match not to be decided in penalties, Senegal held on for a close 1-0 win over Uzbekistan to join Mali as two African sides to reach the final four of the U-20 World Cup. Uzbekistan sat back to try and quell the fast pace of the Senegalese attack, but the speedy West African side finally got on the scoresheet in the 77th minute through a Mamadou Thiam goal on the counter-attack.
In the semifinals, Brazil will face Senegal, as Mali takes on Serbia.