Ghana through at U20 World Cup
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.”