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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.

U-20 WC roundup: Uruguay out-duels New Zealand; Ukraine takes Group D

AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
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On a day where the United States’ biggest name scored a decisive goal and Honduras conceded all but three of 12 goals to a lone Norwegian, the U-20 World Cup in Poland still managed two other entertaining contests.

[ MORE: Weah leads U.S. win | Norwegian bags 9 ]

Nigeria 1-1 Ukraine

Danylo Sikan’s early goal looked set to give Ukraine a perfect nine-point group stage, but Muhamed Tijani’s 51st minute penalty gave the Super Eagles a share of the points.

Ukraine wins Group D and will avoid mighty France in the Round of 16, while Nigeria will finish third in the group and could face Senegal or Italy next.

New Zealand 0-2 Uruguay

Darwin Nunes scored a point-blank goal before halftime and Brian Rodriguez ensured the result deep in stoppage time as Uruguay won Group C by topping the previously-perfect Kiwis.

Uruguay will meet the third place team from Group A, B, or F. The winner of that match would be the United States’ quarterfinal opponent should the Americans knock off France or Mali in the Round of 16.

New Zealand meets Colombia on June 2 in Lodz.

FIFA approve Tyler Boyd’s one-time switch to USMNT

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FIFA have approved Tyler Boyd’s one-time switch from New Zealand to the U.S. national team.

In a move which has surprised many, Boyd’s attacking prowess on the right wing will give USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter a solid option for this summer and beyond as he now cannot switch his allegiance back.

Boyd, 24, is a dual national of both New Zealand and the USA and has enjoyed an incredible run in the Turkish top-flight in recent months.

He is on loan at Turkish Super Lig club Ankaragucu from Portuguese side Vitoria de Guimaraes, and has scored five times and added four assists in 13 games this season.

Boyd was born in New Zealand but grew up in California before heading back to his homeland at the age of 10.

He has previously played for the New Zealand youth national teams in official competitions, hence why the change of association needed to be verified by FIFA. Boyd has also made six friendly appearances for the All Whites.

What is Boyd all about?

Well, the video below gives you a good idea, as Boyd can cut in from the flank to score and assist and has plenty of power and pace to his game. This is something which should compliment the USMNT attack well, with Christian Pulisic’s trickery supporting the likes of Gyasi Zardes and Jozy Altidore up top.

Boyd’s switch is an exciting development for the USMNT ahead of the 2019 Gold Cup this summer.

New Zealand national futsal player killed in Christchurch shooting
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The hate-driven attacks that killed 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, claimed the life of a New Zealand international futsal player.

Atta Elayyan, 33, was capped 19 times by the Futsal Whites and left behind a wife and daughter.

Here are the comments of one of Elayyan’s teammates, Josh Margetts, via the NZ Football official site:

“Atta was a great man and well-liked by everyone in the Futsal Whites squad and the futsal community,” said Margetts. “There are no words to sum up how we are all feeling. There is huge hole in our hearts as we come to terms with the loss of a great person and a good mate. He will be sorely missed.  To Atta’s family, we are deeply sorry for your loss. We can’t imagine what you are going through, but please know we love you and we are here for you during this incredibly difficult time.”

Teams around New Zealand paid tribute to Elayyan and the dozens of other victims, according to the BBC.

NZ women’s coach quits after player uprising

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) Andreas Heraf, the Austrian-born coach of the New Zealand women’s football team, has resigned weeks after players decried his tactics and coaching methods in an unprecedented and public mutiny.

[ MORE: Five USMNT players to watch in club adventures ]

Heraf has been on special leave since June when New Zealand Football received letters from 13 members of the national team saying they would not play for New Zealand if he remained in charge. Some of the letters alleged bullying and intimidation by Heraf who was also New Zealand Football’s technical director.

In a statement on Tuesday, NZF president Deryck Shaw said he had accepted Heraf’s resignation effectively immediately. He said a review into New Zealand Football’s “culture” and Heraf’s actions as national coach would continue and Heraf had agreed to co-operate.

Shaw said “part of the resignation is that Andreas has confirmed that he will fully participate in the review and we will look to the findings of the review to determine the outcomes around this matter.”

Heraf’s resignation follows that of NZF chief executive Andy Martin who quit the organization earlier this month. Martin resigned citing family reasons but was under pressure to explain when he first knew of concerns about Heraf’s coaching style.