Por­tu­gal whip Colom­bia 3-1 at Un­der-20 World Cup game

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY STEVE MCMOR­RAN

Por­tu­gal strode con­fi­dently into the knock­out rounds of the FIFA Un­der-20 World Cup Satur­day, beat­ing Colom­bia 3-1 for its third­straight win in Group C.

De­spite the loss, Colom­bia also pro­gressed to the round of 16 with a win, a draw and a loss which was just good enough for sec­ond place in the group.

Sene­gal beat Qatar 2-1 in the last Group C match and also fin­ished with four points; be­hind Colom­bia on goal dif­fer­en­tial but likely good enough to ad­vance as one of the four best third-place teams. Qatar fin­ished last with three losses.

Por­tu­gal has now su­per­seded Ar­gentina as fa­vorite to win the World Cup af­ter the South Amer­i­can cham­pion was elim­i­nated Fri­day when its 0-0 draw with Aus­tria left it with only two points in Group B.

Nuno San­tos scored the open­ing goal with a su­perb curl­ing free kick af­ter only three min­utes and An­dre Silva scored twice in the sec­ond half; the first from a penalty and the sec­ond with a header as Colom­bia’s keeper came off his line but did not get to Nuno San­tos’ cross.

Por­tu­gal has 10 goals, while San­tos Borre’s 74th minute goal for Colom­bia was the first it has con­ceded.

“We knew we were go­ing to have prob­lems be­cause we were tak­ing on a team with a lot of qual­i­ties, not just in tech­ni­cal terms but also in the way they set them­selves out on the pitch,” Por­tu­gal coach He­lio Sousa said.

“We were aware that we had to be strong all the time. To­day we knew what to do when we had the ball and also when we didn’t, which is also im­por­tant.”

Sene­gal came from a goal down af­ter a lethar­gic first half to beat Qatar 2-1, at the same time en­sur­ing hosts New Zealand will progress to the round of 16 as the third-placed team in Group A.

Qatar’s Akram Afif con­verted a penalty in the 17th minute af­ter Al­moez Ali was brought down. Stand-in cap­tain Alas­sane Sylla equal­ized in the 76th minute and Moussa Kone, af­ter threat­en­ing on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, scored the win­ner five min­utes later.

Sene­gal needed an­other goal to have a chance of oust­ing Colom­bia from sec­ond place and al­most scored but Ma­madou Ndi­aye’s long-range shot went just wide of the post.

“It was a very dif­fi­cult match,” Sene­gal coach Joseph Koto said. “Both teams wanted to win and a draw was no good for ei­ther side.

“Be­fore the game we knew that even by tak­ing three points it’d very dif­fi­cult to qual­ify, so we han­dled the sit­u­a­tion we were in very well.

“The penalty gave us a big shock and we tried to level the game too quickly, which is not the way we should have gone about it.”

Ser­bia beat Mex­ico 2-0 to claim first place in Group D which was the tight­est of the tour­na­ment. Af­ter two rounds, all four teams — Ser­bia, Mex­ico, Mali and Uruguay — were tied on three points.

Ser­bia’s win on Satur­day elim­i­nated Mex­ico from con­tention for a place in the knock­out rounds but Mali and Uruguay stayed in the race af­ter play­ing out a 1-1 draw which left them with four points each and iden­ti­cal goal dif­fer­en­tials. A drawing of lots was re­quired to sep­a­rate them in the stand­ings, with Uruguay tak­ing sec­ond place and Mali third.

Ne­manja Mak­si­movic gave Ser­bia the lead af­ter only two min­utes and An­drija Zivkovic dou­bled the lead just be­fore half­time.

Uruguay led Mali with a goal to Franco Acosta in the 17th minute but Mali showed the tenac­ity that has served them so well through­out the tour­na­ment, equal­iz­ing through Adama Traore a minute be­fore half­time.

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