While the first day of the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand featured just one win – by the United States over World Cup newbies Myanmar – coupled with a trio of draws, the second day saw plenty more points handed out.
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All four matches played ended with a winner, and all four winners also held on for clean sheets as Colombia, Portugal, Mali, and Uruguay all snatched three points to start their campaigns on a positive note.
Colombia 1-0 Qatar
The South Americans are heavy favorites to make a push after having success the past two World Cups, and they’ve started off strongly as a 24th minute goal from Joao Rodriguez through the legs of Qatar goalkeeper Yousof Hassan was enough to send the Asian qualifying champions packing. Colombia held firm the whole way, with precious little on net for Qatar.
Portugal 3-0 Senegal
Portugal went to the top of Group C early with a thumping of Senegal in the opening round. The game was much closer than the scoreline showed though, as the winners rode a 1st-minute goal from Gelson Martins just 26 seconds into the match, the fourth-quickest goal in tournament history. While Portugal dominated the chance counter the rest of the way, they were wasteful, and only would put the game away in the final minute after Nuno Santos was introduced in the 89th minute. The substitute set up Andre Silva for his 90th-minute goal, and Nuno grabbed one himself in added time, punishing Senegalese goalkeeper Ibou Sy for an ill-advised departure off his line.
Mali 2-0 Mexico
Mexico had it all in front of them in their opening match, and it all came crashing down. They dominated the first half and were gifted the ascendency as Mali found themselves a man down early into the second half when Hamidou Maiga was sent off for a second yellow. But they threw it away, unable to score with the advantage before an 15-minute stretch from the hell. Halftime substitute Diego Gama was sent straight off in the 65th minute for an off-the-ball incident well behind the play, and Oscar Bernal went off just a minute later for a second yellow. To make things more maddening, both sending-offs came during Mexican possession of the ball.
With the African side suddenly owning the advantage, they’d capitalize with a pair of beautiful goals. Adama Traore struck first in the 77th minute with a far-post header off a free-kick, and Dieudonne Gbakle worked a stunning one-two just two minutes later to seal it.
Uruguay 1-0 Serbia
The favorites – runners up from two years ago – won this match, but it wasn’t as easy as many may have expected. A 56th minute goal from Gaston Pereiro was the difference, but Serbia challenged Uruguay’s back line time and time again to keep things interesting. Facundo Castro twice teed up Pereiro, once in the 17th minute that forced Serbian goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic to save well off a header, and again for the goal with a smart touch pass for Pereiro’s finish. As the second half wound down, Uruguay had plenty of defending to do but Serbia was wasteful with their chances and could not pull level. With Uruguay and Mali both picking up three points, they are atop Group D after the opening round with Mali owning the goal advantage.