It’s been delayed by a week, but Argentines finally get to see the albiceleste lift a prestigious international trophy today. The adults might have screwed up their chance of the Copa América, but the juniors successfully defended their World Under 20 title, with a thrilling 2-1 win over a tough-as-nails Czech Republic side in Toronto on Sunday.
It was a Czech side vastly improved and more confident than that which scrambled a 0-0 draw with Argentina in the opening group match, and they’d gained a reputation over the course of the tournament for physical defending and making the most of their attacking chances, putting out first Japan and then two Europeans – UEFA champions Spain in the quarters, and Austria on penalties in the semis – on their way to their nation’s first major FIFA final since they stopped being Czechoslovakia.
A tight opening half saw few chances for the Czechs, who kept Argentina at bay by and large, assuring that the good attacking play of Maxi Moralez and Sergio Agüero bore no fruit, and ruffling a few feathers along the way. It was beginning to look like a replay of the first match – Argentina running into more or less a Czech brick wall – when Martin Fenin spun in the box and finished a Czech counter by slamming the ball past Sergio Romero. On the hour, it was 1-0 to Czech Republic and with Argentina struggling to make inroads in the penalty box, a lesser team might have started panicking.
But stand-in captain Agüero rallied the troops, Argentina kept their heads up and were back level within minutes, ‘El Kun‘ Agüero finding himself in space from an Ever Banega through ball, and slotting coolly past Petr Radek at his near post. In the space of three minutes, the match had opened out, but with the Czech resistance finally broken after 150 minutes (including the first group game) of trying, Argentina suddenly looked more relaxed, and more dangerous. Moralez continued his rampaging performance, feeding Mauro Zárate with four minutes of the ninety to go. The Vélez striker, playing due to Angel Di María’s injury, looked up and simply banged in a shot from 20 yards out to spark the celebrations. Thereafter the Czechs didn’t threaten, and Argentina could bask in the glory of a sixth world title.
Sergio Agüero picked up gongs for the best player of the tournament and the leading goalscorer, whilst Maxi Moralez’s showing will surely make it difficult for Racing to hold onto him for much longer. They’ve shown that whilst the adult selección disappointed last week, there’s a bright future ahead. But for now, Argentine fans can just savour a little bit of justice: this time, at least, the competition’s best team did win.
Photos nicked from lanacion.com (top) and ole.clarin.com (in article)
Goals (thanks as always to GolesTV):
Fenin: Argentina 0 – 1 Czech Republic (59th min)
Agüero: Argentina 1 – 1 Czech Republic (62nd min)
Zárate: Argentina 2 – 1 Czech Republic (86th min)