Ecuador tops Italy to secure third place in U-20 World Cup

Associated Press

A lackluster regular time in Gdynia gave way to an excitingly open  extra time as Ecuador secured third place in the 2019 U-20 World Cup.

Just five combined shots found the target through normal time as no goals were scored, but with tired legs the extra-time period was end-to-end and Ecuador capitalized.

First, Italy had a chance to go in front but were wasteful all day and the 95th moment was no exception. Marco Olivieri drew the foul on the edge of the penalty area and stepped up to take the spot-kick, but he was denied by Wellington Ramirez on his penalty. Olivieri’s woes nearly compounded minutes later as he was shown a red card for a bad tackle but VAR reduced the punishment to a yellow.

Richard Mina was then the hero of the hour for Ecuador, scoring in the 104th minute on a set-piece delivered by Diego Palacios and headed on by Olivieri who attempted to clear but only sent it right to the feet of Mina for the poke.

Italy pressed hard for an equalizer after the short extra-time break but they remained wasteful as Luca Ranieri scuffed a great chance in the 117th minute. Italy threw men forward but were out of gas and Ecuador held most of the meaningful possession down the stretch. All told, both sides were wasteful, with just nine shots on target for 31 total efforts, with Italy managing just two on net.

The finish for Italy is disappointing, but still notable to follow up their third-place result two years ago. For Ecuador, the result is even more groundbreaking, marking their best finish in a U-20 World Cup ever, with the previous high only a pair of Round of 16 appearances, most recently in 2011. Ukraine and South Korea will vie for the U-20 World Cup title on Tuesday.