FIFA U-20 World Cup: Ghana, hosts New Zealand advance, as Argentina fail to qualify
The biggest shock was the elimination of six-time champions Argentina who were condemned to an early exit by the host nation’s 5-1 defeat of Myanmar.
This was on a day on which Austria and Ukraine both advanced to the last 16 of the competition tagged “New Zealand 2015’’.
It was an unforgettable night for the All Whites, who came from a goal down to swamp the Asian debutants and finish on four points in Group A.
This gave them every chance of advancing to the knockout phase as one of the best third-placed teams.
Ukraine topped the pool after easing to a 3-0 defeat of the U.S., who finished second.
The Argentinians, who went into the day needing to win and for the New Zealanders to fail to do so, were on the front foot for most of their match.
But they could not find a way past the impressive Tino Casali, and they had to settle for a 0-0 draw in Wellington.
The South Americans’ first-round exit was their first since Portugal 1991, while Austria found themselves in the last 16 for only the second time in their history.
Top spot in Group B was claimed by Ghana, who beat Panama 1-0 to take their points tally to seven.
The game had seemed destined to remain goalless, but it was settled by Emmanuel Boateng’s late solo effort.
On their part, Ukraine were once again indebted to the razor-sharp finishing of Viktor Kovalenko, who scored all three in his side’s defeat of the U.S.
The Americans tested Bohdan Sarnavskyi in the Ukraine goal but were very much second best as they relinquished top spot to the eastern Europeans.
On Saturday, Group C action will see Senegal taking on Qatar at Hamilton, and Colombia against Portugal at Dunedin.
In Group D, Serbia will face Mexico at Dunedin, while Mali will take on Uruguay at Hamilton.
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