Ghana vs. Portugal: 4 Things We Learned from U-20 World Cup Thriller

John D. Halloran@JohnDHalloranContributor IIMarch 24, 2017

NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 06:  Ghana fans during the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Semi-Final match between Burkina Faso and Ghana at the Mbombela Stadium on February 6, 2013 in Nelspruit, South Africa.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Ghana defeated Portugal 3-2 in the U-20 World Cup Round of 16. Ghana, who had only qualified for the knockout stage with three points in group play and only slid through based on goal differential, managed to knock out Portugal, who entered the game as the top scorers in the tournament.

Here are four things we learned from the clash.


Tiago Ferreira Was Fantastic

Portuguese center-back Tiago Ferreira, who plays for Porto, had a terrific game on Wednesday. Throughout the match, Ferreira did a great job covering for his outside backs, cleared away multiple dangerous services into the Portuguese area and was strong in possession, repeatedly switching the point of the attack for Portugal.

In the 71st minute, with Portugal trailing 1-0, it was Ferreira who found the game-tying goal for his side when he fired home a left-footed strike to bring his side level.


Bruma Couldn’t Make the Difference for Portugal

Bruma, who plays for Sporting and is a reported target of Chelsea, was very active on Wednesday, but couldn’t help Portugal get the win.

Twice in the opening minute, Bruma won the endline and fired balls into the area, but his teammates were unable to put them away. Aladje’s miss on Bruma’s service only 12 seconds into the game will easily go down as the miss of the tournament.

Right before the half, Bruma won a tackle near midfield and set up two of his teammates on the ensuing counter, only to have both of them squander their chances. In the second half, Bruma continued to pester the Ghanaian defense, winning two dead balls in dangerous areas and having a shot of his own clang off the post.

In the 92nd minute, Bruma had Portugual’s last, best chance, but fired his shot from a tight angle wide of the net.


Ghanaian Goalkeeper Eric Antwi Did a Great Job

Portugal had the better of the play on Wednesday, but Ghanaian keeper Eric Antwi did a terrific job keeping his side in the match. Only two of Portugal’s 12 shots on goal managed to find their way into the net and both were unstoppable.

For much of the match, Antwi kept his side alive making difficult saves. In the 13th minute, Antwi made two saves in succession off hard-driven Portuguese shots. In the 54th minute, Antwi did a nice job tipping another driven shot over the bar.

In the 32nd and 61st minutes, Antwi was quick off his line to stop Andre Gomes, who on both occasions had dribbled through the Ghanaian defense and found himself in alone on goal.

Finally, in the final minutes of the game, with Ghana holding onto the lead, Antwi was strong off his line on multiple services into the area.


Many of the Players on the Field Should Be Making Their Mark in World Football Very Soon

One the most fun aspects of the U-20 World Cup is seeing the world’s future stars, today.

Wednesday was no different as fans were treated to great efforts from players on both sides of the ball. Tiago Ferreira and Andre Gomes were both terrific for Portugal—Gomes, who is only 19 years old, already has seven league appearances for Benfica. Throughout Wednesday’s match, Gomes marshaled the Portuguese midfield and his ability on the ball under pressure is something that could make him a very special player in years to come.

For Ghana, Frank Acheampong, Kennedy Ashia and Ebenezer Assifuah have all been having terrific tournaments and could be big stars in the future.