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FIFA U-20 World Cup: How Nigeria, Italy, Brazil qualified for quarterfinals

Flying Eagles celebrate victory over Argentine.

.Argentina, England crashout

‘After Argentina wasted several opportunities throughout the match, the Nigerians punished them twice in the second half’

Nigeria, one of Africa’s representatives in the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, has qualified for the quarter-final of the football tournament.

The West African country qualified along Brazil, Colombia and Italy on Wednesday night after beating Argentina, the host country, 2-0 infront of their 30,000 supporters in San Juan.

Italy, according to AP, eliminated England with a 2-1 victory – thanks to a late goal from the spot.

Brazil thrashed Tunisia 4-1 despite being a player down for the entire second half, and Colombia topped Slovakia 5-1 with three of its goals scored in a four-minute span.

Nigeria will take on either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round, while Brazil faces Israel in the quarterfinals, as Colombia would play Italy.

Also read: Portugal beat Nigeria 4-0 in international friendly

Argentina did not arrive at the U-20 World Cup as one of the favorites. The team coached by Javier Mascherano did not qualify initially and only got a spot at the tournament when it replaced Indonesia as host.

After Argentina wasted several opportunities throughout the match, the Nigerians punished them twice in the second half.

A goal kick ended in a defensive mistake and a clear chance for the Nigerian Ibrahim Muhammad, who scored in the 61st minute.

Argentina continued to pressure, hitting the woodwork twice; but a late Nigerian counter-attack ended in a header by Rilwanu Haliru Sarki just before the final whistle.

“We played a great match,” Mascherano said in a post-match TV interview.

“We knew that if we made some mistakes we might have to pay. And regrettably the two mistakes we made brought them [Nigeria] two goals.”

Italy started strongly against England and scored in the 8th minute after a sequence of quick passes that put Tommaso Baldanzi in front of the goalkeeper. The English team equalized with Alfie Devine scoring from close range in the 24th. A stalemate settled in at the La Plata Stadium, one of the poorest pitches in the tournament.

But a video reviewed decision nearing fulltime gave Italy a chance from the spot. Cesare Casadei stepped up and scored his fifth goal of the tournament to secure the win and put the Italians through.

Earlier, Marcos Leonardo opened the scoring for Brazil in the 11th minute from the spot, his fourth goal at the tournament. Andrey Santos added a second from close range in the 31st.

Defender Robert Renan was sent off shortly before the break and Tunisia had the initiative for most of the second half, but Brazil scored twice in injury time through Matheus Martins and Santos.

Colombia’s Óscar Cortes opened and finished the scoring for his team, striking first in the 48th. Yaser Asprilla made it 2-0 two minutes later and Tomás Ángel added a third in the 52nd.

Ángel scored again in the 64th.

Timotej Jambor scored a consolation with a headed goal in the 87th, but Colombia had the last word with another goal by Cortes in injury time.

(AP)

valoa2000@yahoo.com

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