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 — Ghana
The manager of the U-20 side for Ghana targeted at least a berth in the semi-finals leading up to this tournament. On Tuesday morning they put the world on notice, beating Argentina 3-2 in a scoreline that doesn’t tell the full story.
Ghana actually dominated the play and the game against the team most favored to win the tournament coming in. Instead, it was the African nation taking it to Argentina, eventually going up 3-0 in the first 69 minutes of the match.
It took a furious two-goal effort in the last few minutes of the match for Argentina to make the final scoreline respectable. Winning that match after a disappointing 1-1 tie with Austria on the opening day of the tournament was a huge statement for Ghana.
2) Biggest Loser — Ref Ghead GRISHA in Austria vs. Panama match
The story of Panama’s loss against Austria can be summed up in one name — Fidel Escobar. It was the Panamanian defender that seemingly had something on the Egyptian referee on Monday night/Tuesday morning and boy was it ugly.
Not only did Grisha miss Escobar doing this…
…but his decision not to give Escobar a red card led to him being on the pitch and in position to give the Panamanian’s a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. Then, later in the match, with it tied 1-1, Escobar went in with a vicious two-footed challenge on the edge of his own box. Not even a whistle again:
[h/t Derek Tang]
Somehow Escobar managed to stay on the pitch and even avoid a yellow card throughout the match. Austria had insult to injury with Grilltisch being the victim of both Escobar’s punch and being the one with a yellow card following the match.
Grisha’s officiating was simply a disgrace, and it was in spite of him that Austria pulled out the victory on Tuesday night (or Tuesday morning depending on your location in the world).
3) Standout Performer — Rubio Rubin, United States
The United States had a ton of issues keeping possession against Myanmar, and a lot of that had to do with the bottling up of Rubio Rubin. He wasn’t bottled up nearly enough in the second match, scoring the first goal of the night and adding a brace later in the match.
However, the most impressive stuff came with him either passing the ball or in possession of it. Rubin was a true No. 9, orchestrating the match from a bit of a withdrawn striker position and also being much better off the ball with his positioning. He made timely and dangerous runs forward when needed, but also got back and demanded the ball as well.
Rubin was a leader on the pitch on the night, and that was a great thing for the United States.
4) Players Worth Staying Up to Watch in the Future:
Rubio Rubin, United States: He had a disappointing first match against Myanmar, but if this version of Rubin shows up more for the United States he could be in for some major recognition in this tournament.
Viktor Kovalenko, Ukraine: We’re staying in Group A to give you the other player with a brace on the night. Even in the opening 0-0 draw with New Zealand, Kovalenko was a very difficult player for the All-White’s defense to deal with.
Last night, Kovalenko was spectacular and if the Ukraine can earn at least a draw or hope for a New Zealand draw/loss against Myanmar, look for Kovalenko to be a name that could take this side far.
5) Best Tweet:
Sellas Tetteh on Satellites' target: "Our minimum target is still to reach the semi-finals,…" (1/2) #U20WC pic.twitter.com/1fpv7BgImJ
— Ghana FA Official (@ghanafaofficial) June 2, 2015
6) Biggest Surprise — Ghana’s 3-0 lead
Sure, it was going to be the match of the group stages most likely, but few gave Ghana a real shot at winning this match. Instead, Ghana shocked the soccer world by absolutely destroying the Argentinian side.
Going up 1-0, okay, that can happen. But 2-0 and then 3-0 and demoralizing the Argentinian’s in the process? No one saw that coming.
7) Best Goal — Fidel Escobar, Panama
One could argue that Escobar should’ve never been in the match to hit this one, but he was and this strike from a central defender is a thing of beauty.
8) Results of the Day (Groups A and B)
Myanmar — 0 Ukraine 6 (Yaremchuk 51′, Luchkevych 54′ Kovalenko 57′ & 77′, Sobol 68′, Biesiedin 71′)
Austria — 2 (Hormechea 45’+1 OG, Grubeck 51′) Panama — 1 (Escobar 38′)
New Zealand — 0 United States — 4 (Rubin 6′ & 83′, Hyndman 33′, Arriola 58′)
Argentina — 2 (Simeone 80′, Buendia 90′) Ghana — 3 (B. Tettah 44′, Aboagye 59′, Y. Yeboah 69′ pen)