AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Sporting Alert) — Scores and recap from the opening day of action at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament in New Zealand.
Four games took place on Saturday’s opening day, but only the United States managed to record a victory, as the likeS of Argentina and Ghana were both held.
USA scored a come from behind 2-1 win over debutants Myanmar at Northland Events Centre in Whangarei to move top of Group A with three points.
But the North Americans didn’t get off to the best start and an upset looked on the cards when Myanmar’s Yan Naing Oo scored the opening goal of the tournament in the ninth minute.
However, that strike was cancelled out eight-minutes later when Maki Tall reacted to fire home to knot the scores at 1-1.
Captain Emerson Hyndman then found the net again for USA early in the second half to guarantee a hard-fought success for his side.
“We didn’t play how we wanted to play, that’s for sure. We found in front of us a very inspired team, a newcomer coming into the World Cup and they fought hard,” USA head coach Tab Ramos.
“They made us play ugly and it was difficult for us. I’m happy with the win but we’re going to have to improve if we’re going to go anywhere in this tournament. [Laughs] I can’t really tell you what I said at half-time.”
Myanmar coach Gerd Zeise was disappointed with the final result, but proud of the way his team performed in the tournament.
“We can leave this arena with our heads raise. We were a little bit unlucky, especially in the first half,” Zeise said.
“I didn’t see a better performance from the Americans, they only had more experience. I told [the American bench] that they were too clever for us and we must learn.”
Argentina were held 2-2 by a sprinted Panama in Wellington.
One of the pre-tournament favourites, Argentina, took the lead twice against Panama in their Group A fixture, but were unable to hold on for the win.
Up 2-1 with six-minutes remaining, Argentina saw three points slipped away from them when Fidel Escobar half-volleyed home into the back of the net to even the scores at 2-2.
Angel Correa scored a brace and twice put the Albiceleste ahead.
“We had many good and excellent opportunities to win this match today,” a very disappointed Argentina coach Humberto Grondona said after the draw.
He gave credit to Panama though.
“Panama made the most of their chances, so naturally the result and sharing the points hurts. Unfortunately we made too many errors to secure victory in this game.
“Panama were very tough opponents today; it was a difficult opening match for us. At the end we could even have lost the game and come away empty-handed despite our dominance.
“But my team wouldn’t have deserved that after the way the match played out.”
The draw in the opener means Panama are still searching for their first win in the World Cup.
Head coach Leonardo Pipino said: “Our target at this World Cup here in New Zealand is to finally win a game in this competition.
“I think we had a very good chance to do that today. My team delivered a fantastic performance and absolutely deserved this result.
“If we carry on like this then I think we’ll have a good chance of achieving our goal. We’re a solid unit and like a family, and that makes us so strong.”
Elsewhere on Saturday’s opening day, hosts New Zealand played to a 0-0 draw with Ukraine in Auckland, which was watched by a sell-out crowd of 25,000.
“It took us 45 minutes to get into the game but we sharpened up in the second half, New Zealand coach Darren Bazeley said.
“I saw a lot of positives today; we played with a lot of heart and courage. But we need a little bit more.”
The other game on the day saw Ghana, who finished third at the last World Cup and Austria, playing to a 1-1 draw in Wellington, in Group B action.
Argentina 2 – 2 Panama
USA 2 – 1 Myanmar
Ghana 1 – 1 Austria
New Zealand 0 – 0 Ukraine