- Group E: France jump into early lead
- Group F: Barco inspires Argentina
- First round of group matches at Poland 2019 now complete!
THE DAY REPLAYED – Three of the pre-tournament favourites were in action on day three of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 on Saturday, and they did not disappoint.
Argentina, who have won the competition more times than anyone, eased to a big win over South Africa, with Esequiel Barco scoring twice to show how lethal he can be.
Reigning European champions Portugal scored early against Korea Republic and then kept the Asian side at bay to pick up three points, while France did likewise after a slow start against Saudi Arabia, who had a player sent off in the first half.
Mali’s hopes of scoring a win of their own were dashed by a Panama side that never gave up and were rewarded with a point for their efforts thanks to a penalty five minutes from time.
France 2-0 Saudi Arabia
Panama 1-1 Mali*
Portugal 1-0 Korea Republic
Argentina 5-2 South Africa*
Goal of the day
Goal: 0-1 Boubacar Konte (39′)
Barco shows Argentina the way: Despite their best first-half efforts, Argentina found themselves all square with South Africa at the break. It was all change after the restart, however, as Barco took control, scoring from the penalty spot and then capping a superb performance with a volley from the edge of the box, a strike that ended South African resistance.
Dream return: France’s Amine Gouiri faced one of the stiffest tests of his young career when he suffered a serious ankle injury in August 2018. Sidelined for several months, he made his return only recently, though his patience and determination to regain full fitness were rewarded with a goal and an assist as he helped the French to victory over Saudi Arabia.
Panama custodian makes his mark: It is usually goalscorers and not goalkeepers that attract all the attention, but not in the case of Panama’s encounter with Mali, with Canalero keeper Marcos Allen playing a vital role in their hard-earned point. The Africans were thwarted time and again by Allen, whose best save came when he pulled off a stunning reflex stop from point-blank range in the first half.
“So happy for this result. The first match is usually hard, and it was a difficult match before the third goal, but then we felt comfortable. The first half swung back-and-forth, but during the second half, after the penalty, things became good for us.”
Fernando Batista (Argentina coach)
“We had a red card that changed the course of the game, though France are very strong and professional. Even so, we gave a good account of ourselves and I’m satisfied with the performance of my players.”
Khalid Atawi (Saudi Arabia coach)
Up next (kick-offs in local time)
Senegal-Colombia (Lublin, 18:00)
Poland-Tahiti (Lodz, 20:30)
Mexico-Japan (Gdynia, 15:30)
Ecuador-Italy (Bydgoszcz, 18:00)
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