Serbia stunned Brazil in extra-time to win the U-20 World Cup with a 2-1 win in the finals with a squad made mostly of young domestic players.
20-year-old Nemanja Maksimovic of the Red Star Belgrade youth system scored the winner in the 118th minute to top a Brazil squad that was a heavy favorite. Makismovic also earned the assist on Serbia’s first goal, which came in the 70th minute and gave them a 1-0 lead that lasted for just three minutes before Brazil drew level through Manchester United youth product Andreas Pereira.
Serbia had been gifted a breeze through to the finals, avoiding Germany and earning wins over the United States, Hungary and Mali in its path to the title match. However, they proved they belonged with the finals victory over a stacked Brazil team that included youth players from clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, Marseille, Braga, and many of the top Brazilian clubs.
“I believed it from the very start,” said Serbian goalkeeper and team captain Predrag Rajkovic, who produced his biggest moment to deny Pereira a second in added time. “I knew we could achieve something great here in New Zealand. It wasn’t a case of realising over the course of the four weeks: ‘Wow, we could become world champions.’ No, I was convinced of it from day one – and never doubted it for a moment.”
Meanwhile, Mali also shocked many by taking third place in the tournament with a 3-1 victory over fellow African nation Senegal. The surge to the third place finish comes after Mali finished just third in its own group (partially due to a drawing of lots) but made it through to the knockout round thanks to the expanded field.
19-year-old Lille youth product Adama Traore scored a brace for Mali and Diadie Samassékou sealed things in stoppage time with the team’s third.