- Stunning set piece helps Italy into quarter-finals
- Paraguay get better of Argentina in five-goal thriller
- Next round scheduled for 10 and 11 November
Thursday saw the last two spots in the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™ filled by Italy and Paraguay, who join Korea Republic and the Netherlands, who advanced on Tuesday, and Spain, Mexico, Brazil and France, who all qualified on Wednesday.
The day kicked off with a clash between two teams that had finished second in their groups, Italy and Ecuador, and it was the Europeans who emerged victorious courtesy of a sensational swerving free-kick from Gaetano Oristanio. Gli Azzurrini are now on the verge of emulating their best-ever U-17 World Cup performance: a semi-final appearance at Canada 1987. To do so, though, they will have to dispose of a formidable-looking Brazil side in the last eight.
It was an exciting and emotional night in Vitoria, where Paraguay put in a courageous and determined display to turn around a 2-0 deficit and defeat Argentina 3-2, thereby qualifying for the quarter-finals for the first time since 1999. A Lautaro Cano own goal plus strikes from Diego Torres and Diego Duarte did the damage for the triumphant Paraguayans.
📌 Memorable moments
Tight matches sometimes require sparks of genius to determine the winners. And that was the case for Ecuador-Italy, in which Gaetano Oristanio produced a masterstroke moment that brought the fans in attendance to their feet. The talented Inter Milan midfielder, who has already demonstrated his powerful shooting skills for his club, put such spin on his dead-ball effort that Ecuador goalkeeper Joan Lopez was left with no chance.
Tears of a winner
Degnand “Willy” Gnonto has had a great tournament so far for Italy. A candidate to win the adidas Golden Boot at Brazil 2019 – he is only two goals behind leader Sontje Hansen – Gnonto did not have the best of evenings against Paraguay. The young attacker, who only turned 16 two days ago, missed two clear-cut chances, one of which involved an open goal, and he could not hold back his tears of frustration even in victory.
Following a difficult first half that saw them deservedly trail 2-0 to Argentina, Paraguay’s players took the unusual step of remaining out on the pitch instead of heading to the changing rooms. They sat on the substitutes’ bench, debating, gesticulating and making some necessary adjustments. Given the final result, it would be fair to say it was the right decision.
After his eye-catching winning goal against Argentina, Paraguay forward Diego Duarte took time out of his team’s joyous celebrations to hold up the shirt of team-mate Fernando Presentado and display it to the fans at Estadio Kleber Andrade. In the South Americans’ final group stage match against Italy, Presentado unfortunately suffered ligament damage to his right knee.