Four teams booked their places in the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand on Wednesday, with the USA, Senegal, Mali and Serbia making it through.
The U.S. were battered for large parts of their 1-0 win over Colombia but dug deep to advance to the last eight for the first time since 2007.
[ VIDEO: Rubin’s blast, Steffen’s save ]
Tab Ramos’ side will now face Serbia in the quarters on Sunday in Auckland after they rallied to seal a comeback win in extra time against Hungary. Elsewhere a nerve-jangling encounter played out between Ukraine and Senegal as the latter equalized late on to force the game into extra time and then won on penalty kicks. Another African nation booked their spot in the last eight as Mali caused a huge shock by beating Ghana 3-0.
Here’s a brief recap on all four games which took place down under on Wednesday as the Round of 16 is halfway complete.
USA 1-0 Colombia
Rubio Rubin’s thunderbolt in the second half turned out to be the game-winner as Tab Ramos’ 10-men held on for a heroic victory to reach the quarterfinals. U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen came up huge with eight minutes remaining as he saved a penalty kick from Jarlan Barrera and then Paul Arriola cleared off the line superbly as the U.S. reached the last eight for the first time since Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore were bossing it for the U-20’s almost 10 years ago.
Ukraine 1-1 Senegal (Senegal win 3-1 on PKs)
A tense game played out as Ukraine took the lead in the 70th minute via Artem Besyedin but Sidy Sarr equalized in the 83rd minute to take the game into extra time. Senegal’s hero then emerged as the game went to a penalty shootout with goalkeeper Ibrahima Sy saving three penalty kicks as Senegal scored all of theirs to make the last eight. The Senegalese youngsters will now face either Austria or Uzbekistan in the quarters.
Serbia 2-1 Hungary
Hungary looked to be the USA’s opponents on Sunday after Bence Mervo scored his fifth goal of the tournament to put the Europeans 1-0 up. However 10-man Serbia equalized in stoppage time at the end of normal time through Ivan Saponjic and two minutes from the end of extra time Attila Talaber scored an own goal to give Serbia victory and set up a date with the U.S. Drama.
Mali 3-0 Ghana
Mali stunned Ghana 3-0 and will face either Nigeria or Germany in the quarters, and they took the lead through Diadie Samassekou in the 20th minute. Ghana simply didn’t recover. A compact Mali side shocked the 2009 U-20 World Cup champions further by adding another two more goals in the second half through Diedonne Gbakle and Aboubacar Doumbia.