Ghana through at U20 World Cup

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY STEVE MCMOR­RAN

Pre-tour­na­ment fa­vorite Ar­gentina faces the prospect of group­stage elim­i­na­tion from the Un­der-20 World Cup af­ter drawing 0-0 with Aus­tria on Fri­day in its last match in the round-robin stage.

Ar­gentina took only two points from three matches in Group B af­ter a loss against Ghana and draws against Panama and Aus­tria.

Ghana sealed its place in the round-of-16 with a 1-0 over Panama on Fri­day, scor­ing the match­win­ning goal in the 82nd minute through Em­manuel Boateng.

Ghana topped Group B with seven points and will ad­vance along with Aus­tria which fin­ished sec­ond on five points.

Ar­gentina must now rely on its record be­ing among the best four of the six third-placed teams if it is to progress to the knock­out rounds.

Ar­gentina en­tered Fri­day’s match, know­ing it would likely have to win to pre­serve its chance of win­ning the Un­der-20 ti­tle for the sev­enth time. It pressed Aus­tria re­lent­lessly, se­cur­ing 71 per­cent of pos­ses­sion and cre­at­ing 27 shots on goal, but de­spite its en­er­getic at­tempts, Ar­gentina couldn’t break down the dis­ci­plined and well-or­dered Aus­tria de­fense.

Atletico Madrid play­maker An­gel Cor­rea was a con­stant threat but even his out­stand­ing range of skills couldn’t break down the Aus­trian de­fen­sive wall.

Cor­rea drove into the box early to feed Ni­co­las Tripi­chio whose goal-bound shot was blocked ac­ci­dently by star striker Gio­vanni Sime­one. Cor­rea then had his own chance but his shot was saved by Tino Casali.

Sime­one had one shot ruled out for off­side. He then missed the best chance of the half, forc­ing Casali into a sharp save, then shoot­ing wide when the re­bound fell at his feet.

Sub­sti­tute Ale­jan­dro Romero, Leonardo Rolon and Cor­rera all had ef­forts early in the sec­ond half but couldn’t find their tar­get as Casali con­tin­ued to frus­trate Ar­gentina, sav­ing shots from To­mas Martinez and Cor­rea.

Ghana seemed lethar­gic at times against Panama, but be­gan to show real ur­gency in the last 10 min­utes as the three points they had an­tic­i­pated seemed like elud­ing them.

Sub­sti­tute Boateng de­cided the con­test with a bril­liant solo goal, driv­ing for­ward strongly, twist­ing away from the chal­lenge of Fran­cisco Nar­bon and curl­ing a su­perb 20-yard shot just in­side the right­hand post.

“Our op­po­nents sur­prised me to­day,” Ghana coach Sel­las Tet­teh said. “I was in shock sim­ply be­cause at the World Cup you see such dif­fer­ent stan­dards of per­for­mance and to­day Panama played very well.

“Now we have to pre­pare for the Round of 16. It’s go­ing to be very tough now and our level of per­for­mance will need to rise.”

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