U-20 World Cup roundup: Knockout round set as Brazil, Germany lead way on final group stage day

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The final day of the group stage produced plenty of expected results, but also some drama as teams locked up the final spots in the knockout round.

Brazil and Germany became the second and third teams behind Portugal to finish their group stages a perfect 3-0-0, dominating the competition en route to their place in the next stage. In more dramatic fashion, Uzbekistan picked up its first points of the competition on the last day of the group stage, but it was enough to send them through in the German-dominated group.

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With the final four games a wrap, here’s how they went down:

Brazil 3-0 North Korea

The Brazilians flirted with disaster in their first two matches, trailing both Nigeria and Hungary at some point across each one despite eventually finding themselves victorious. Here, it was much more pedestrian, and while it took a good hour for the Seleção to get on the scoresheet, they’d put the game away swiftly once the ball hit the back of the net.

It was all Brazil in the first half as North Korea sat back and accepted pressure, but the Group E minnows would not concede through the first 45 minutes, making a goal-line clearance and weathering a few shots off the iron to keep it even at the break. It would eventually come, however, as Brazil poured on the pressure and a weak shot from Jaja took a massive deflection off the foot of Min Hyo Song into the back of the net for an own goal. Jean Carlos would carve up the defense to add a second six minutes later, and a third from Leo Pereira would seal it late as Brazil out-shot North Korea 23-2.

Nigeria 2-0 Hungary

Both teams were likely already through thanks to work earlier in the tournament, but Nigeria cemented their place as the Group E runners up thanks to a brace from Taiwo Awoniyi that bracketed halftime, and a Nigerian defense that locked down 4-goal scorer Bence Mervo.

Nigeria forced a number of acrobatic saves from Gyorgy Szekely before finally finding the breakthrough in the 33rd minute as Saviour Godwin burst up the right side and teed up Awoniyi from close range for his first. The second half got under way as Hungary’s Mario Nemeth rattled the crossbar soon after the break but a wayward backwards header from the Europeans in the 54th minute gifted Awoniyi a breakaway, and he buried the chance. Nigeria’s efforts unfortunately earn them a date with title-hopefuls Germany, while Hungary become the last team through on the third-place table.

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Germany’s Hany Mukhtar bagged his fourth goal of the tournament as they ran through Group F.

Germany 5-1 Honduras

With a loss to Fiji in the previous round, it was always going to be near impossible for Honduras to qualify for the knockout stages, and that reality hit hard as the CONCACAF side was well beaten in Christchurch. Five different goalscorers powered home scores for Germany, and the Europeans marched their way to the most dominating group stage performance of the tournament with a perfect record and a +14 goal differential.

Marc Stendera got things started in just the second minute by slotting home an early penalty, and while it was even for a moment as an own-goal leveled things before 20 minutes, a 30th minute strike from Julian Brandt would put the Germans back up for good before a trio of second-half goals would do the trick. One of those came from Benfica youngster Hany Mukhtar, his fourth goal of the tournament after bagging a hat-trick against Fiji in their tournament opener. The win for Germany would secure Senegal’s place in the knockout stages via the third-place table by eliminating Honduras.

Uzbekistan 3-0 Fiji

With Germany steamrolling Group F, the battle for second-place was a cannibalistic nightmare. Uzbeistan sat bottom of the table having lost to both Germany and Honduras in the first two rounds, but still ended up through after limiting the damage against the Europeans and making their move on the final day. With all three teams on three points, Uzbekistan moves on thanks to a superior goal differential.

With the score level at the break, a somewhat comedic moment led to the opener as a pair of poor shots from Eldor Shomurodov resulted in a goal as the second efford was spilled by the Fiji goalkeeper. Uzbekistan would get another just a minute later as a shot from Zabikhillo Uriboev from a tight angle also trickled through the keeper’s hands. It was a formality from there as Uzbekistan collected the final-day win to move on.

KNOCKOUT ROUND MATCHUPS:

With the group stage finalized, there are plenty of solid matchups to go around. The United States – the only CONCACAF team left standing with Mexico, Panama, and Honduras eliminated – will get a June 10 matchup against Colombia at 3:30am ET. There are a few games featuring members of the same region, as Ghana will take on fellow Africans Mali, while Brazil and Uruguay square off in an all-CONMEBOL tie. The most intriguing matchup seems to be Germany vs. Nigeria, as the Europeans dominated Group F but their African opponents are no slouches, giving Brazil a run for their money before handling North Korea and Hungary.

Ghana vs. Mali
Serbia vs. Hungary
United States vs. Colombia
Ukraine vs. Senegal
Austria vs. Uzbekistan
Germany vs. Nigeria
Portugal vs. New Zealand
Brazil vs. Uruguay

Luis Enrique to return as Spain boss five months after resigning

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Luis Enrique will be named manager of the Spanish national team on Tuesday, five months to the day after stepping down from the same position to care for his nine-year-old daughter as she battled bone cancer.

[ MORE: Van Dijk leaves Netherlands squad for “personal reasons” ]

Robert Moreno is set to step aside to make way for Enrique. Moreno was previously an assistant on Enrique’s staff and had initially been put in charge of La Roja through the 2020 European Championship.

Enrique’s daughter, Xana, passed away in late August after a five-month battle.

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Moreno managed the team during Monday’s 5-0 thrashing of Romania to complete an unbeaten EURO 2020 qualifying campaign, but the 42-year-old was seen leaving the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in tears after the game. Neither Moreno nor any of the players spoke to the media.

He previously said that he would step aside should Enrique find himself able to return. Moreno insisted that friendship came first, above all else.

Preview: USMNT’s must-win Nations League finale v. Cuba

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The scenario is simple for the U.S. men’s national team ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Cuba (7:30 p.m.ET): Gregg Berhalter’s side will finish top of Group A with a victory, and only a victory. Period. It’s as simple as that.

[ MORE: Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video) ]

Friday’s victory over Canada righted the wrongs of last month’s defeat north of the border and laid the foundation for the Americans to reach the semifinals in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League, provided they take care of business in George Town, Cayman Islands, in what is set to be the final game of Berhalter’s first calendar year in charge. Despite trailing Canada (+6 goal differential)  by three points heading into Friday, the Yanks (+8) already have the tiebreaker in their favor.

Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes (twice) and Aaron Long scored to give the USMNT its 4-1 triumph over their northern neighbors. More importantly, it was a largely dominant display after going 1-0 up inside two minutes and carrying a 3-0 led into halftime.

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Season so far ]

The USMNT will once again be without Christian Pulisic (hip injury), leaving the attacking options on the roster quite thin. Morris, who got a goal and an assist against Canada, will likely start on the left again, with Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola playing centrally and on the right respectively. Zardes is the presumed starter up top, unless Berhalter opts for the youthful inexperience of Josh Sargent in a must-win game.

Berhalter appears to have settled on a pretty consistent backline, with Sergiño Dest and Aaron Long manning the right side and John Brooks and, at least on Friday, Tim Ream on the left. Weston McKennie’s place deep in midfield has been cemented for quite some time, but he’s partnered close to a half-dozen players alongside him this year alone. The 21-year-old Schalke midfielder was stellar against Canada, frequently starting counter-attacks and carrying the ball into the final third.

Projected USMNT lineup

I___________I
Guzan

Dest —— Long —— Brooks —— Ream

McKennie —— Roldan

Arriola —— Lletget —— Morris

Zardes

Man Utd debt climbs to $500m as club spends to halt decline

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United’s attempt to strengthen its underperforming squad has proved costly with debt rising more than 55 percent in a year to $498 million.

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The cost of signing Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James ahead of the new season in the first quarter of the financial year was around 140 million pounds.

Although United reported record revenue last season of $812 million, the New York Stock Exchange listed business is now expecting the 2019-20 figure to drop to between $725 million and $750 million.

That is due to United missing out on Champions League television and prize money after finishing sixth last season. United could miss out again with the side in seventh place, nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester City after 12 of the 38 games.

[ MORE: Van Dijk leaves Netherlands squad for “personal reasons” ]

“Our ultimate aim is to win trophies, play fast, fluid, attacking football, with a team that uses graduates from our academy along with world-class acquisitions,” United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said. “We know this will not be achieved overnight, however we have made investments across the club that we believe will set us on the right path.

“We know our academy is a strong competitive advantage and an area we will continue to invest in as it is at the heart of the club.”

EURO 2020: Spain, Sweden finish top; Norway, Romania reach playoffs

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MADRID — Spain finished its qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championship with a 5-0 rout of Romania in what could have been the farewell match for coach Robert Moreno on Monday.

Moreno did not show for the post-match interview and there were widespread reports in Spanish media he would not continue at the helm of “La Roja.”

The Spanish soccer federation did not immediately say why the coach did not talk to the media. It said a news conference was scheduled for Tuesday.

Moreno took over the job after Luis Enrique resigned in March to take care of his sick daughter. Moreno had been Luis Enrique’s assistant until then.

Gerard Moreno scored twice for the hosts, who had already secured a spot in the tournament but needed the victory to be among the top-seeded teams in the draw this month.

Spain also got on the scoreboard through Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Oyarzabal, and an own-goal by Romanian defender Adrian Rus.

“It was important to finish with the three points in front of our crowd,” said Ruiz, who scored his first goal with the national team. “We need to keep this same dynamic going into the Euros next year.”

Spain ended as the Group F winner with eight wins and two draws, at Norway and Sweden. “La Roja” finished five points in front of second-placed Sweden.

Romania, which had already been eliminated, ended in fourth place with four victories and two draws in 10 matches.

Spain, coming off routing Malta 7-0 in Cadiz, outscored its opponents 31-5.

It was in control from the start on Monday, with Romania threatening only a few times in front of a crowd of 36,198 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, including many Romanians.

Ruiz opened the scoring from close range in the eighth minute, and Moreno added his goals with a header in the 33rd and strike from the six-yard line in the 43rd.

Rus found his own net while trying to intercept a cross into the area in first-half stoppage time, and Oyarzabal closed the scoring with a left-footed shot from outside the box in second-half injury time.

It was the second Spain match at Atletico’s Metropolitano stadium, the other a 6-1 rout of Argentina ahead of last year’s World Cup.