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SOUTH AMERICAN U20 champions Ecuador progressed to the semi-finals of the U20 World Cup after defeating a strong United States side in Gdynia.
An powerful long-range effort from Jose Cifuente opened the scoring but the US came back into the game when former Celtic forward Tim Weah was on hand to turn home a loose ball following a corner.
The winner arrived for Ecuador when Gonzalo Plata’s effort from distance came back off the crossbar and Leonardo Campana was on hand to collect the ball and cross for Jhon Espinoza.
The United States improved during the second half after the introduction of Ully Llanez, but couldn’t find the equaliser.
“It was a great victory consisting of hard work and warrior spirit,” said an emotional Ecuador coach Jorge Celico.
“The players played well and did our country and our people proud. It’s a great generation, with great technical quality, that I’m proud to manage.”
Ecuador will now face South Korea in the semi-finals, who emerged victorious following a dramatic quarter-final against Senegal.
The game went to extra-time and then penalties with South Korea edging it despite missing their first two spot-kicks.
Ukraine and Italy face off in the other semi-final after defeating Mali and Colombia respectively.
This is already Ukraine’s best ever performance at this competition, having previously only made it as far as the Round of 16 on the few occasions they’ve qualified.
Talented attacker Serhiy Buletsa will be looking to cause problems for the Italians in tomorrow’s semi, while top-scorer Danylo Sikan will be hoping to add to his tally.
But Ukraine are likely to be without Denys Popov, a member of their impressive back three, who suffered a badly sprained ankle in the game against Colombia.
Centre forward Andrea Pinamonti and Davide Frattesi are two players worth looking out for in the Italian side.
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