WELLINGTON: Five-time champions Brazil limped into the FIFA Under-20 World Cup quarter-finals on Thursday after a penalty shoot-out with Uruguay, while fellow heavyweights Germany eased through without even hitting top gear.
In other matches, host nation New Zealand gave two-time winners Portugal an almighty scare before succumbing to a late goal and Uzbekistan defeat Austria 2-0.
Brazil scrape through
Brazil looked unconvincing against Uruguay, eventually advancing 5-4 on penalties after both sides failed to find the net in 120 minutes of football.
The Brazilians, who are hoping to match Argentina’s record of six trophies, will face Portugal in the last eight.
Late winner breaks New Zealand hearts
The Portuguese also looked shaky against a plucky New Zealand side cheered on by an eager crowd in Hamilton.
The Europeans went ahead on 24 minutes after a piece of wizardry from Raphael Guzzo, who spun away from his defender before unleashing a snap shot past the keeper.
The hosts clawed back an equaliser midway through the second half to set up a tense finish.
New Zealand threatened their more fancied opponents but Gelson Martins netted an 87th-minute winner, evading two defenders to send a curling shot into the corner.
Germany cruise through
The Germany-Nigeria clash pitted Europe’s top qualifier against the African youth champions and it was the Super Eagles who created the early chances.
But Germany changed the game in a flash when Marc Stendera dispossessed a defender and flicked on the ball to Levin Oeztunali, who buried it in the corner with a left-foot drive.
The 19th-minute goal stole Nigeria’s momentum and never again looked like drawing level.
Germany must overcome Mali in the last eight to keep alive their dream of claiming a junior World Cup to match the senior one their compatriots won in Brazil last year.
Uzbekistan into last-eight
Uzbekistan went into their match with the worst defensive record after leaking seven goals in the pool stages. But Austria, whose campaign has been built around a solid defence, showed little inclination to test their opponents.
Dostonbek Khamdamov made them pay with two second-half goals in 10 minutes to earn his side a quarter-final against Senegal.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2015.
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