Following a tense and dramatic day that saw three penalty shootouts, Brazil, Mali, Serbia and Senegal won their way through to the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015.
Though the goalless scoreline might suggest otherwise, Brazil and Portugal played out an entertaining game at Waikato Stadium, where chances were not in short supply. A combination of the woodwork, fine goalkeeping and last-ditch defending nevertheless took the tie to penalties, with A Verdeamarela winning the day as Hamilton bade a fond and action-packed farewell to the competition.
There was more penalty drama when Mali took on Germany, and not just at the end of extra-time. The Germans were one goal to the good when they were awarded a second-half penalty that could have taken the match out of Mali’s reach. Aiglons’ keeper Djigui Diarra guessed Hany Mukhtar’s intentions, however, keeping his side in the hunt. Their equaliser duly came and when the tie went to penalties, Diarra looked on as two German takers shot wide to gift the Africans a semi-final slot.
After seeing off Hungary in extra-time in the last round, Serbia had to take the long road once more in their quarter-final tie against USA, with two hours of goalless football being followed by an 18-kick shootout featuring seven misses in all. Fortunately for the Serbians, they were responsible for only three of them.
Senegal were the only one of the day’s winners to get the job done in normal time. Mamadou Thiam was the man who settled their meeting with Uzbekistan, getting on the end of a fine team move to give his team a place in the last four and, in the context of the day’s other events, a relatively early shower.
Brazil 0-0 Portugal (PSO 3-1)
Mali 1-1 Germany (PSO 4-3)
USA 0-0 Serbia (PSO 5-6)
Uzbekistan 0-1 Senegal
Source : Fifa website