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FIFA U-20 World Cup

Hosts in heaven on penalty Tuesday

Luis Muriel of Colombia celebrates after scoring the first goal
© Getty Images

THE DAY REPLAYED – Colombians were on the cusp of inexplicable sorrow. They had relinquished a lead. They trailed 2-1. Just 11 minutes remained for the hosts to salvage their FIFA U-20 World Cup dream. They prayed fanatically for a goal that would take the game into extra time.

Their wishes were not just answered but eclipsed. Indeed, a Pedro Franco equaliser and a James Rodriguez spot-kick sent the masses at 'El Campin' into ecstasy and Eduardo Lara's team into the quarter-finals.

Exceptionally, all four of the day's ties were decided by penalties. Argentina's edged Egypt 2-1 in a contest in which all the goals came from 12 yards, while Nelson Oliveira's unanswered conversion grabbed Portugal victory over Guatemala. Then, after 120 minutes failed to separate Mexico and Cameroon, the Africans missed all their three efforts and the North Americans dispatched the same number to go through.

Nobody could have predicted the matchday's fanciful script.
Results*Group A
*Argentina 2-1 Egypt
Portugal 1-0 Guatemala
Cameroon 1-1 Mexico (Mexico win 3-0 on penalties)
Colombia 3-2 Costa Rica

Goal of the dayArnoldo Iguaran's effort in Colombia's 2-0 win over Bolivia was voted the goal of the tournament at the Copa America 1987. Not, however, for the pacy forward's contribution to it, but for the breathtaking, along-the-turf through-ball which set it up. The man responsible for that was Carlos Valderrama, one of the greatest passers in football history, and even he would have been proud of the Juan Golobio masterstroke that created Costa Rica's equaliser against his country: the midfielder's 40-yard, low pass put a goal on a plate for John Ruiz.

Memorable moments*Mala mania!
*Portugal kicked off playing in Cali for the fourth time; Guatemala were newcomers to the venue. Naturally, therefore, there was a sea of red jerseys present in the stands; white ones decorated by a blue slash were alien. The two-time FIFA U-20 World Cup winners took an early lead and expectedly overwhelmed the minnows during the first half, but as the match progressed, a Portugal-pro crowd transformed into a Guatemala-encrazed one. “Si se puede” (Yes you can!) innumerable spectators roared incessantly. Ultimately, they couldn't, but after a 1-0 loss brought the Central Americans' fairytale run to an end, their coach Ever Almeida, high on emotion, admitted the “extraordinary support” had forced him to hold back tears.

*Tussling team-mates!
*You'd have thought Jean Efala would have been delighted to have pulled off a superb save in the first half. Think again. He was, instead, irate – irate that Idriss Nguessi had left the striker unmarked. The No16 squared up to the defender and the two had to be separated by the referee. An incredible stop often prompts a defender to give his goalkeeper a pat on the back. On this occasion the gesture was in the opposite direction and it was a bashing of the ear!

*Revelling room-mates!
*John Ruiz and Joel Campbell share the same room and a passion for dance. So, when the former's equaliser for Costa Rica silenced Bogota, the close friends decided to make their own music by performing an eye-catching boogie. Ultimately, though, it was Colombia who danced their way into the last eight.

The stat
17 – The number of matches Argentina have now gone unbeaten in the FIFA U-20 World Cup – just one shy of the record Brazil set between 1989 and 1995. After losing their opener 1-0 to USA in 2005, the Lionel Messi-inspired Albiceleste won their next six games en route to the trophy. Two years later, Argentina drew 0-0 with Czech Republic first time out before posting six successive victories to retain their title, before they unexpectedly failed to qualify for Egypt 2009. Walter Perazzo's side have won three and drawn one of their encounters in Colombia.

Next upPortugal face Argentina in the quarter-finals, while Mexico meet Colombia. The four remaining Round-of-16 games - Nigeria-England, Spain-Korea Republic, Brazil-Saudi Arabia and France-Ecuador – will unfold on Wednesday.

Have your sayWho will win the Portugal-Argentina and Mexico-Colombia quarter-finals?

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