- Uruguay and Zambia advance to the last 16
- Italy beat South Africa to boost their hopes
- Zambia’s Enock Mwepu scores the 50th goal of the tournament
THE DAY REPLAYED – The second round of matches in Groups C and D at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 saw two continental champions consolidate their status as pre-tournament favourites. South American kings Uruguay and African champions Zambia both made it two wins out of two to progress to the knockout phase with a game to spare.
Zambia were rewarded for their attacking flair after being caught off guard and going 2-0 down to Iran, while La Celeste once again showed in their meeting with Japan that they thrive in tight matches that come down to the smallest of details.
Elsewhere, Italy gained some breathing space following their opening-day defeat, recording a comfortable win over South Africa, who look short of morale after two straight losses. The Italians wore black armbands in memory of former FIFA referee Stefano Farina, who passed away on Tuesday. In the day’s other game, Portugal and Costa Rica shared the points in Jeju, a result that left neither side with much to smile about. With a point each to their names, their qualification hopes now hinge on the final round of matches.
Goal number 50 and a celebratory handshake
Finding themselves two goals down just after the restart, Zambia launched a thrilling comeback, quickly pulling one back and then equalising courtesy of Enock Mwepu’s smart left-footed finish, which came at the end of a superb team move. As well as levelling the match up, Mwepu’s goal was also the 50th of Korea Republic 2017. There was further excitement for the Junior Chipolopolo a few minutes later, when they went 3-2 up, prompting coach Beston Chambeshi to extend a vigorous handshake to an elderly gentleman wearing an official tournament bib, a gesture that ended with both of them wreathed in smiles.
An inspirational sight
There are many ways of cheering your team on, though as one Portugal fan demonstrated on Wednesday, there is still plenty of room for innovation when it comes to being a supporter. The diehard in question sought to inspire his side by invoking the spirit of his country’s footballing greats and hanging a number of shirts on a piece of wire at the front of one of the stands, as if he were putting out the washing. The names of Rui Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo were among those adorning the jerseys on show, and although the garments seemed to have some effect on the Portugal players in the first half, it was not enough to see them to victory over Costa Rica.
Olivera drives Uruguay to victory
Mathias Olivera encapsulated Uruguay’s famous garra (grit and determination) as night fell in Suwon. The left-back was the hero of the hour for his side, producing an amazing goal-line clearance to prevent Ritsu Dohan’s header from levelling the scores. Then, just as the South Americans were wobbling, he popped up to seal victory for Uruguay with a cool left-footed finish inside the box.
“It’s a problem for Portuguese football. We create a lot of chances, we play well, we use good young players in a well-drilled unit, but we just can’t score.”
Portugal coach Peixe
Saturday 27 May
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— South African U20 (@AmajitaU20) May 24, 2017