FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017: Venezuela and Uruguay advance to semi-finals
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Venezuela were well worth their win.JUNG YEON-JE/Getty Images
Venezuela were well worth their win.JUNG YEON-JE/Getty Images

VENEZUELA and Uruguay made their way into the semi-finals of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Sunday, overcoming the United States and Portugal, respectively.
The day’s first game came to life in extra time after a goalless 90 minutes, with Venezuela emerging 2-1 thanks to goals by Adalberto Penaranda and Nahuel Ferraresi.
Later in the day, Portugal and Uruguay couldn’t be separated over the course of 90 minutes, finishing level at 2-2. The deadlock continued through the additional 30 minutes, and Uruguay emerged victorious 5-4 in a penalty shootout. Santiago Bueno netted the decisive kick in a dramatic climax.
Here’s how the action played out on Sunday in South Korea, with Venezuela and Uruguay making strides into the last four.
Having impressed so many in their four matches at the competition so far, Venezuela were big favourites against the United States on Sunday.
In truth, they should have finished the game long before extra time. Sergio Cordova and Ronaldo Chacon hit the bar with headers, and the Vinotinto let a string of other chances slip by. It meant they had to wait until extra time to make their dominance count.
It was Penaranda who did so. The forward, a threat throughout the contest, found space in the box and diverted a cross brilliantly into the corner. Scouted Football highlighted the Watford forward as the star man after the game:
Ferraresi looked to have made the game safe for Venezuela in the 115th minute, heading home from a corner. But the United States set up a nervy end to this draining clash, with Jeremy Ebobisse halving the deficit two minutes later. It was the first goal Venezuela conceded in the competition.
While there were some edgy moments for Venezuela from that point on, they never looked to be in real danger of surrendering their lead.
Afterward, football journalist David Cartlidge picked up on the profligacy showcased by the South Americans and praised the performance of skipper Yangel Herrera, who was supreme in the middle of the park:
Venezuela will face Uruguay in the last four. The Celeste overcame Portugal in another entertaining semi-final, as the contest ended in a dramatic penalty shootout.
Portugal were in front with just a minute on the clock, as Xadas robbed possession in midfield and fed Xande Silva in the penalty area; he made no mistake.
Uruguay responded well and were deservedly back on level terms in the 16th minute, as Bueno nodded home a loose ball in the box. However, Diogo Goncalves put the Portuguese back in front before the break, lashing in a stunning shot from long range in the 41st minute.
Uruguay showcased their trademark spirit in the second half. Having been so impressive in the opening period, Xadas conceded a penalty. Federico Valverde converted with composure in the 50th minute to level matters once again.
Despite an open finish to the game, neither side found a winner inside 90 minutes.
Opportunities came and went in extra time too, with Portugal on the front foot for the majority of the additional 30 minutes. But the guile and sharpness that was on display early in the game was absent at the end of the breathless encounter.
The penalty shootout lifted tensions and shredded more nerves. The first eight kicks were expertly finished before none of the next five were netted, with Uruguay and Portugal both spurning opportunities to guarantee their progression.
However, after Uruguay stopper Santiago Mele denied Andre Ribeiro—the goalkeeper’s third save of a thrilling shootout—Bueno kept his cool to send Uruguay into the last four. They will now face Venezuela on Thursday to earn a spot in the final.

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