Thursday 25 May 2017, 15:29

A tight race and some tremendous strikes

  • France guarantee progression

  • New Zealand's chances of following them given a major boost

  • Group F razor-tight after Senegal beaten

THE DAY REPLAYED – As the last of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 groups wrapped up their second games, there was plenty on show to ensure viewers came back for a third. While France sauntered into the next round, Group F remains wide open in the race for the knockouts.

Among the day’s 12 goals there were some of the highest quality. None outrank Myer Bevan’s sensational opener for New Zealand, but Abdulrahman Alyami’s first similarly deserves plaudits. Denis Poha’s lofted curling effort should not be forgotten either and 17-year-old Josh Sargent’s swift turn and clinical finish needs an honourable mention as he bagged his third in two games.

Results Group E: France 4-0 Vietnam | New Zealand 3-1 Honduras Group F: Ecuador 1-2 Saudi Arabia | Senegal 0-1 USA

Memorable moments *Not quite Zizou *Arguably the most famous penalty in French football history is Zinedine Zidane’s during the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ final – an arcing Panenka-style effort that kissed the bar on the way in. Aged nine at the time, no doubt Jean-Kevin Augustin remembers it vividly. His impression of it against Vietnam, however, he will want to forget. Six minutes into their clash, the forward stepped up and delicately lofted his spot-kick on to the bar, only for the ball to bounce out rather than in, leaving him – albeit briefly, with two goals on the way – red-faced.

Saudi’s saviour, again Saudi Arabia would not be here without goal Amin Albukhari. Two penalty saves in their quarter-final shootout against Iraq at the AFC U-19 Championship clinched their World Cup place. Having already shown Asia his prowess when faced from 12 yards, he took his chance to let the world know with aplomb against Ecuador. Faced with last game’s two-goal hero Bryan Cabezas, Albukhari hurled himself full-length to his right to palm the ball clear and set Saudi Arabia towards another crucial win.

Bevan’s thunderbolt for the early birds Myer Bevan provided one of the ultimate reasons why you should always take your seat at the match in good time. It is safe to say a few fans will have missed the New Zealand forward’s piledriver as they belatedly turned up at the Cheonan Sports Complex. The Kiwi connected perfectly on 45 seconds from an obtuse angle to send the ball cannoning in off the underside of the bar and the prompt onlookers’ jaws to the floor.

The words "I'm satisfied in general, but I expected more in terms of our execution. Technically, we lacked precision. I'm very demanding and I don't like when things are done approximately. If we have the opportunity to score eight goals, then we have to score them." Ludovic Batelli, France coach

Up next *Sunday 28 May *Honduras-Vietnam New Zealand-France Senegal-Ecuador USA-Saudi Arabia

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