U20 World Cup Round of 16: Gambia 0-1 Uruguay, Ecuador 2-3 South Korea


La Celeste narrowly beat Gambia after both teams received red cards in the first 45 minutes to progress to the quarters against USA. Genoa’s Matturro provided the crucial assist. The Asians defeated the South Americans with goals from Jun Lee, Bae and Choi

Uruguay and South Korea are the last to reach the quarterfinals of the current World Cup in Argentina. La Celeste snatch the pass against Gambia after a low-goal challenge but full of fighting spirit, as shown by the two sending-offs (one to each side) in the first 45 minutes. Uruguay win thanks to a shot by Duarte after an assist by Genoa’s Matturro. Korea, who came back from second place in the previous edition, progress with three goals against a smoky Ecuador, too slow to get into the game. The seals of Cuero and Zambrano are useless. Korea wins 3-2 with ice-cold punches.

Gambia-Uruguay 0-1

La Celeste relies on De Los Santos flair in attack rather than Ferrari. Instead, Bojang makes three changes for his Gambia, which however retains the same pattern and striker poker that saw him brilliantly through the first phase, namely Colley, Sanyang and Mbya behind Adama Bojang. The Africa runners-up got off to a bad start and were outnumbered after just 15 minutes because referee Letexier penalized a foul by Mbye with a red light. However, the South Americans are struggling to find space and before the break they return the “favor”: red light on Luciano Rodriguez for an elbow to Njie and after the only two feelings of the first half, numerical equality is restored: a sensation goal for Uruguay, with Duarte losing everything alone in front of Dampha, and a powerful right-footed foot from Sanyang who is repelled with his fists by Rodriguez. There were few goals even in the second half, but thanks to Gutierrez’s skill between the lines, Uruguay built more. In the 56th minute, a sensational error by De Los Santos against Dampha thwarted the Uruguayan celebrations, but they exploded in the 65th minute thanks to a precise shot from Duarte, well served by Genoa’s Matturro. From then on, Uruguay finishes by controlling the opponent. Just a thrill for Rodriguez, a header from two strides from Singhateh who shoots high in the 95th minute and dashed the last Gambian hopes.

Ecuador-South Korea 2-3

The Asians rely on the surprise factor and hit the mark with it. Kim-Eun Jung’s formation wasted no time in attacking with quick rallies on the ground, taking advantage of the opponent’s soft stance. It took Ecuador a while to figure out how to stop the slippery Korean trio behind Jun Lee, and by the time they did they were two goals down. Because Korea really hit the ground running with Lee landing a masterful right-footed volley in the 11th minute and Kim sending the defender and goalkeeper well to the crossbar before signing the brace in the 19th minute. Then Ecuador reacted, at least Paez, Sosa and Angulo, the most talented players in Bravo’s squad, tried, but serious chances were not seen in Joon Kim’s games. Just a blitz in the 35th minute with the complicity of the referee allowing a shot from eleven yards (converted by Cuero) for a venial foul on Paez. But just minutes after returning to the field, the Koreans struck cold again: Napa’s hard exit from a corner kick, Choi’s free throw and the third Korean goal. The substitutions aren’t enough for the South Americans, Minda’s good start and Paez’s individual ideas (who, however, is missing the most at the moment). Not even the victory paw that puts Zambrano into the scrum in the 84th minute, one of many evoked by the ‘mini-tri”s furious final attacks, isn’t enough. In the end, despite a healthy helping of talent from the middle, Ecuador succumbed to a ruthless Korea and a night of lack of ideas and confusion.

The whiteboard

These are the pairings and schedule for the Quarterfinals: Brazil-Israel (tomorrow at 7.30pm Italian time), Colombia-Italy (tomorrow at 11.00pm Italian time), Nigeria-South Korea (Sunday at 7.30pm) and USA-Uruguay (Sunday at 11pm). Should they defeat the Colombians, Nunziata’s Azzurri will have to play the winners Nigeria-South Korea in the semi-finals.

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