FIFA Under-20 World Cup Wrap: Mexico Thrash Mali, Hosts Book Last-16 Place

Daniel Edwards@@DanEdwardsGoalFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2013

The Australian youngsters went out against Turkey during Friday's action
The Australian youngsters went out against Turkey during Friday's actionMark Nolan/Getty Images

After an action-packed final round of fixtures on Thursday, the Under-20 World Cup once more delivered excitement as competitors from Group C and D finished their opening rounds. 

With all eight teams still theoretically in the running to qualify at the start of the day, there was all to play for in Turkey. The host nation was one of the teams out on the pitch as they sought a place in the second round. 

Let's take a look back at the best of the action from Friday, starting with an unusual end to Group D as Greece claimed the top spot. 

Greece 1-1 Paraguay 

Greece failed to overcome 10-man Paraguay in a tense clash filled with action, but finished as group leaders after a 1-1 draw in Trabzon, Turkey. 

With the two sides level on points and goal difference, the European nation was awarded first place following the drawing of lots, meaning it goes on to face one of the best third-placed finishers in the next round. 

Paraguay played 65 minutes of the clash a man down, after captain Gustavo Gomez was sent off for a second bookable offence. Despite their numerical advantage, the Paraguayans defended stoutly and it was not until late in the second half that Greece broke the deadlock. Dimitrios Diamantakos converted a header to give his side the advantage. 

That lead lasted just five minutes. Substitute Brian Montenegro scored one of the candidates for goal of the tournament with a stunning overhead kick to level the tie. At full time with no advance on the scoreboard both sides drew lots, and it was Greece who claimed victory in Group D. 

Mexico 4-1 Mali

After suffering defeat against Paraguay and Greece, Mexico finally found their top form. A 4-1 demolition of Mali marked the Tricolor's first points of the competition, and was enough to seal qualification as one of the best third-placed nations. 

A mistake from Mali goalkeeper Germain Berthe allowed the North American side to pounce just two minutes in as Marco Bueno converted an open goal. From there it was simple for Mexico. Jesus Corona, Jesus Escoboza and Uvaldo Luna all scored, to lift their nation up to third place in Group D. 

Mali's only consolation was Samba Diallo's strike after 62 minutes, and the west Africans prepare for an early exit having finished bottom of the group. Mexico, meanwhile, currently occupy second in the best third-placed teams table, and thanks to El Salvador's defeat are guaranteed to be among the four qualifying places to reach the second round. 

Colombia 2-0 El Salvador

The South American Under-20 champions continued their excellent run in youth football, running out easy victories over El Salvador to seal first place in Group C and ensure an undefeated record so far at the World Cup. 

Already certain of making the last 16 prior to kickoff, Colombia nevertheless entered the game looking for all three points. Andres Renteria put the Cafeteros ahead in the first half, while just five minutes later Jhon Cordoba doubled the tally with a penalty. 

El Salvador never gave up the chase for a draw, but in injury time Colombia showed they had one more trick left. Juan Fernando Quintero let rip with a screamer from distance to add the third, sealing another impressive victory for the Group C winners. 

Colombia move on to the last 16, while El Salvador need a miracle to qualify as one of the best third-placed sides. 

Turkey 2-1 Australia

Hosts Turkey showed their mettle to come from behind and defeat Australia, securing second place in Group C. The home side now prepare for a last-16 clash against France, to be played on July 2. 

After an uneventful first half, the game came alive following the interval. Jamie MacLaren fired home a close range finish on 52 minutes, to raise the Socceroos' chance of qualifying for the second round. The lead, however, was short lived. 

Within two minutes Hakan Calhanoglu had restored parity, and Turkey earned all three points thanks to Okay Yokuslu. The Kayserispor youngster produced a delightful chip 25 yards out to put his side ahead three minutes from the end, and Australia could not fight back as they exited the competition.