Friday 31 May 2019, 14:28

Panamanian elation, Portuguese heartbreak

  • Group E: Panama go through as one of best third-place finishers

  • Group F: European champions Portugal eliminated

  • Ecuador advance without playing, but Norway bow out

THE DAY REPLAYED - The final round of group matches at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 provided excitement until the very end. France earned top spot in Group E thanks to a 3-2 victory over Mali, who still progressed to the knockout phase. Panama beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 and also earned a spot in the Round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams.

In Group F, Argentina slipped to a surprise 2-1 defeat to Korea Republic but retained their place at the summit ahead of their opponents thanks to their superior goal difference. European champions Portugal, by contrast, are packing their bags for home as their 1-1 draw with South Africa was not enough to advance to the next phase, while Norway were eliminated despite their record-breaking win yesterday.


Group E: Mali 2-3 France Saudi Arabia 1-2 Panama

Group F: Korea Republic 2-1 Argentina South Africa 1-1 Portugal

Memorable moments

Historic day for Panama: The Central Americans' 2-1 triumph over Saudi Arabia was the nation's first-ever win at a FIFA U-20 World Cup. In their previous 17 matches in the competition they had registered four draws and 13 defeats, scoring ten and conceding 34 in the process. The fact the success earned them a spot in the next round was the icing on the cake for the underdogs.

Unexpected backing: The crowd at the Gdynia Stadium was very much behind Mali against France. The Africans earned the support after featuring in one of the most exciting matches at the competition so far, having come back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to secure a last-gasp 4-3 victory over Saudi Arabia three days earlier.

One goal in it: In the battle for a ticket to the Round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed sides, only one goal ended up separating Portugal in Group F and Panama in Group E. Ultimately, the fact that Los Canaleros scored one more (three) than the Iberians (two) sent Portugal out at the first hurdle for the first time in ten years.

The words

“My players thought they could keep up in the first half, but in the end the difference in experience took its toll. France were better prepared and were able to spend more time together as a result. Nevertheless, I'm very proud of my team.” Mamoutou Kane (Mali coach)

"We weren’t capable enough or confident enough to move on in the competition. We faced a few setbacks in the first matches. We wished to have different results. We really should have won this match. We created opportunities, but we couldn’t do enough to ensure victory and ensure that we move forward.“ Helio Dias (Portugal coach)

Up next

Sunday 2 June, all times local

Italy-Poland (Gdynia, 17:30) Colombia-New Zealand (Lodz, 20:30)