With the 2015 U-20 World Cup taking place at crazy hours here in the United States, we at 32 Flags are happy to be your guide to all that is the U-20 World Cup. Consider this series a refresher course on all that took place while you were likely asleep. You’re welcome.
1) Biggest Winner – Portugal for dominating, Mexico for surviving
Portugal demolishes Qatar, advances to the round of 16, and is a legitimate title contender. Much of the senior national squad is getting old, but the two games from Portugal thus far prove that the cupboard is far from bare. Expect to see much of this U-20 group at the World Cup in 2018.
Mexico was all but dead late in their game, but suddenly this club found a bit of magic. What a stunning end to the game. With a single free kick, Mexico went from dead-in-the-water to revitalized group contender (even though they’re technically still in last place in Group D). They’ll need another magical performance against Serbia this weekend, a Serbia club that easily dispatched a very good Mali side.
2) Biggest Loser – Uruguay
Uruguay had a draw all but secured. After a dreadful offensive game, Lozano scores Mexico the game winner in the last twenty minutes, but Uruguay fired right back with a lovely long free kick goal. Mexico had a ton of chances and bossed possession throughout most of the game, but Uruguay held brilliantly. But Uruguay’s chances of earning points evaporated with a single panicked challenge from Cabaco just outside of the penalty area.
Uruguay was minutes away from holding onto a draw and controlling their own destiny. Now, they sit in a four-way group tie and have no momentum going into their final game against a tough Mali squad. They will have to do better on Saturday if they hope to advance.
3) Standout Performer — Ivo, Portugal
Ivo scored 2 goals and assisted another while totally embarrassing Qatar’s defense all night. Mexico’s free kick was the most dramatic goal of the night, but everybody loves a bicycle kick. Sure, Qatar could have defended better (or at all), but the execution is perfect from Ivo. A thing of beauty.
; 4) Players Worth Staying Up to Watch in the Future: André Silva, Portugal: Silva just scores goals. He knows how to get into space, he knows how to get on the end of crosses, and several times a game he’ll have moments of world-class brilliance. Ivo was the star for Portugal last night, but Silva is most likely their star for nights, weeks, and years to come. Mamadou Thiam, Senegal: There really isn’t much to say about Senegal from last night other than they should be incredibly thankful for Thiam’s brilliant solo goal. Just look at it. Clown car defending from Colombia, but it’s quite nice.
6) Biggest Surprise — Mexico scoring on a last minute free kick
I like Mexico, really I do, but this squad is absolutely anemic in the attacking third so far this year. Their first goal came from an absolute gaffer by the Uruguayan back line, which really seemed to be the only way the ball would find the back of the net. Mexico consistently worked the ball onto the wing, only to have no attackers in the box. It was one of the most frustrating offensive performances I have seen this tournament thus far.
7) Best Goal — Ivo (Portugal) & Gutiérrez (Mexico)
See above for the brilliant Ivo bicycle kick. Ivo's goal was the most skillful of the night, but who am I kidding... that Mexico free kick was incredible. Just superb from Gutiérrez.
7b) Worst/Best Goalkeeping How about a combo near goalkeeping disaster and best save of the night, both from Mexico's Then Gonzalez in the first half.
[h/t Derek Tang]
8) Results of the Day (Groups C and D)
Qatar – 0 Portugal – 4 (André Silva 34', Ivo 42', 66', Vigário 74')
Mexico – 2 (Lozano 71', Gutiérrez 90+3') Uruguay – 1 (Suarez 83')
Senegal – 1 (Thiam 23') Colombia – 1 (Zapata 43')
Serbia – 2 (Sergej 27', Mandic 74') Mali – 0 ()