In one of the more exciting matches of the U-20 World Cup, Uruguay earned a win over Iraq in penalty kicks. After 120 minutes of 1-1 play, the South American squad won the free kicks 7-6.
FOX Soccer Trax noted the final action of the day as the final penalty shot sailed over the bar:
Iraq - Saif - hits it over the bar URUGUAY advance to the final 7-6 on penalties— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) July 10, 2013
The win sends Uruguay to the tournament final against France, although this is a semifinal matchup that not too many expected to happen.
While Iraq had an impressive showing in the group stage, its poor team history in international competition led many to believe the squad would be knocked out quickly.
However, the group kept turning heads with its victories over Paraguay and South Korea to reach the semifinals. This run brought joy to the Iraqi people and should continue to bring hope for the future of the sport.
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Although the run is over, the squad has nothing to be ashamed about after a strong showing in this event.
On the other hand, Uruguay had been just as impressive in tournament, defeating Nigeria and Spain in back-to-back matches. It will now try to win it all for the first time in its nation's history.
The beginning of the match featured plenty of chances from each side, but the true excitement began toward the end of the first half. After Uruguay's Diego Laxalt Suárez committed a foul on the right side of the pitch, Iraq got an opportunity for a free kick.
Ali Jamil Adnan followed with one of the best scores of the tournament by drilling it into the near post, just out of the reach of the opposing goalkeeper.
This led to the coaching staff dancing along with the rest of the fans:
In the second half, Iraq did a good job of holding onto the lead by maintaining possession for the majority of the time in the early going.
However, Uruguay did eventually take control of the match and started getting quality chances in the final 20 minutes of play. One Twitter account points out how close the team was to an equalizer:
Uruguay hit the bar! Iraq's weakness in the air from set pieces finally exposed by Uruguay. Unmarked completely in the box were 3 players.— SandalsForGoalposts (@Sandal4Goalpost) July 10, 2013
It appeared as though Iraq was going to hold onto the victory, but Gonzalo Bueno of Uruguay finally put the ball in the back of the net in the 88th minute, sending the match into extra time.
After a scoreless 30 minutes, the match went to penalty kicks, with both sides matching each other for a long time. Salif Salman of Iraq finally broke the streak by missing the net high, ending this dramatic match.
With the win, Uruguay will move on to face France on Saturday in the U-20 World Cup final. The French squad defeated Ghana 2-1 in the other semifinal earlier Wednesday.
Uruguay will likely be the underdog in that matchup, but it certainly has a chance of pulling the upset if it plays like it did in the semifinal match.
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