The quarter-finals of 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup began with Ukraine stifling Cucho Hernandez and the Colombia attack to win 1-0 in Lodz. Danylo Sikan capitalised on Los Cafeteros ‘ defensive mishap to open the scoring in the 11th minute, and the Ukrainians’ organisation frustrated their opposition for the rest of the match.
In the second match, Mali suffered a calamitous start in Tychy, first putting the ball in their own net on 12 minutes and then losing Ousmane Diakite to a straight red card for his reckless sliding challenge of Luca Pellegrini. Do-it-all forward Sekou Koita quickly willed the Eagles back into the game with a 39th-minute equaliser, but his side were ultimately unable to overcome their personnel disadvantage. Andrea Pinamonti’s second-half brace led the Italians to a 4-2 victory.
Colombia 0-1 Ukraine
Italy 4-2 Mali
Goal of the day
Goal: 4-2 Davide Frattesi (84′)
Defence wins the day: Italy and Ukraine have each allowed only three goals in five games at these world finals. Both sides were tasked with containing formidable attacking talent in their quarter-final outings and proved up to the challenge. Now two of the most organised teams in Poland will do battle, with a spot in the final on the line.
Consistent performers:Sikan has become Ukraine’s go-to goalscorer in the knockout rounds, finding the back of the net three times in two games. Meanwhile Pinamonti has scored match-winners in consecutive matches for Gli Azzurrini.
Keep climbing: Ukraine are through to their first U-20 World Cup semi-finals after making their quarter-finals debut on Friday. They were also semi-finalists at the 2018 UEFA U-19 European Championship, a stage they had not reached in continental competition since 2009.
“We did not use the ball as well as we did in previous games. That is why we had problems today. The second half was better, but ultimately we were not able to be efficient enough. Of course there was a dream to go to the semi-finals or final, but the reality is different. Our players did well and represented their country with dignity.”
Colombia coach Arturo Reyes
“We expected this kind of game – a very tough one. At the end Colombia forced us to play how we did, to make those clearances, because they are an extremely well-conditioned team.”
Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov
“We played well. Mali have a good, strong team. Despite the red card they continued to play well. But now I’m focusing on Ukraine. They’re so organised and they played well against Colombia. It will be difficult for us.”
Italy coach Paolo Nicolato
Saturday 8 June, all times local
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By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde