MAY 31 (Sporting Alert) — Mali, Colombia, Portugal and Uruguay all scored victories on the second day at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand on Sunday.
Mali took the early lead in Group D after registering a 2-0 victory over Mexico, but not before some interesting drama at Dunedin’s Otago Stadium.
Hamidu Traore, who headed home a free-kick cross and Dieudonne Gbakle’s timely finish off a buildup, provided the goals for Mali in three minutes, as both teams finished the game with less than 11 players.
Mali were reduced to 10 players when Hamidou Maiga paid the price for a sloppy challenge on Hirving Lozano in the 56th minute and he was ordered off the pitch.
But the Mexicans failed to take advantage of having an extra-man on the field and it came back to haunt them as they too fell into disciplinary problems as two players received a red card in 60 seconds.
El Tri ended the game with nine-men after second half substitute Diego Gama was sent off for a silly off-the-ball incident and defender Oscar Bernal got his marching orders after he collected a second yellow card for a poor foul on Souleymane Diarra.
“We need to critically analyse what happened in this game,” Mexico coach Sergio Almaguer said on FIFA.com “As a team, we need to play with a bit more intelligence and focus.
“We had chances throughout the match but failed to take them. This was only the first match, though, so we need to look forward because we’ve still got more games to come.”
Meanwhile a goal from forward Gaston Pereiro and a match-winning performance in goal by Gaston Guruceaga guided Uruguay to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Serbia and joined Mali at the top of Group D with three points.
“We had expected a hard-fought encounter in terms of individual battles, challenges in the air and every aspect of the game. “Fortunately we were able to keep the opposition in check and get a favourable result, Uruguay coach Fabian Coito said.
“We’re in a very even group; the three matches are going to be extremely tough for all four teams.”
Serbia dominated for most of the game, but they were unable to get past Guruceaga, who perhaps was the busiest player on the pitch throughout the contest at Dunedin’s Otago Stadium.
Recording a victory on the day as well, were Colombia, who edged Qatar 1-0 in Group C action at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Joao Rodriguez netted the lone goal in the 24th minute for the South Americans, but they had to work hard in the second half to hold off the Asian champions, who were determined to steal a point.
In the meantime, Portugal wrapped up the action packed second day fixtures with a 3-0 thumping of Senegal at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, to join Colombia at the top of Group C.
An opening goal inside the first 30 seconds by striker Gelson Martins, who netted the fourth-fastest goal in World Cup history, got things rolling for Portugal, before Andre Silva and substitute Nuno Santos added a goal each in the dying minutes.
“The opening goal didn’t come as a surprise because we like to start matches on the front foot,” Portugal coach Helio Sousa said after the game.
“And if we can get the breakthrough in the first minute, all the better. We had some problems because Senegal are a good team, but we should have killed off the game earlier.
“We created enough chances to do so but didn’t manage to convert them. Luckily we stayed strong, dealt with the situation and eventually made it 3-0, which was the right result.”
Senegal coach Joseph Koto was disappointed with the final result and he believes conceding such an early goal made life difficult for them.
“The first goal came from a mistake, a lapse in concentration,” Koto said. “My player played a pass he should never have been playing.
“That put us in a strange situation for the rest of the game. By pushing for an equaliser, that created space for them and they scored two more goals at the end.
“The scoreline isn’t an accurate reflection of the match. We were up against a highly experienced team and that’s what made the difference.”
FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP
Mexico U-20 0 – 2 Mali U-20
Qatar U-20 0 – 1 Colombia U-20
Portugal U-20 3 – 0 Senegal U-20
Uruguay U-20 1 – 0 Serbia U-20