Elijah Just

Associated Press

Italy and Colombia first to advance in U-20 World Cup knockouts

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The group stage is complete and the knockouts have begun, with Italy and Colombia the first two teams to advance past the Round of 16.

In the early game of the day, 20-year-old Andrea Pinamonti was the lone goalscorer as Italy topped hosts Poland 1-0 on a 38th minute penalty. Pinamonti, an Inter youth product who spent last season on loan as a regular at relegated Frosinone, delivered a Panenka penalty after Dominic Steczyk handled the ball in the box.

Poland’s best chance to equalize came just after halftime as Marcel Zylla broke away from the Italy defense and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Italian shot-stopper Alessandro Plizzari just got his foot to the shot. Otherwise, the two sides split possession and shots relatively evenly, but the Italians move on still on the hunt to match or beat their third-place finish from two years ago.

In the later matchup, Colombia and New Zealand required extra time after a 1-1 draw, and the South American side went through by way of a thrilling penalty shootout that finished 5-4 after seven takers. Colombia got an early strike 11 minutes in from 19-year-old Nacional youth product Andres Reyes who got in front of net to graze his head to a fabulous Juan Hernandez free-kick delivery that New Zealand goalkeeper Michael Woud probably should have claimed.

The All Whites leveled things up in the 35th minute as Elijah Just, a 19-year-old heading to play in the Norwegian second tier next season, got to the end of a low Liberato Cacace ball into the box. Colombia remained on top throughout the second half and had numerous chances down the stretch of regulation but couldn’t find the back of the net. After the end of extra time, a thrilling penalty shootout that featured five saves, a miss, and a retaken penalty.

All told, in the seventh round of spot-kicks, Colombian goalkeeper Kevin Mier saved Matthew Conroy’s effort and Colombia took hold of the shootout, sending New Zealand home.

Colombia advances to take on the winner of Ukraine and Panama, while Italy has a tough task ahead, matching up with the winner of Argentina and Mali.