Italy and Uruguay will both be vying for their first Under-20 World Cup title when they face each other in the final on Sunday.
In the semi-finals held on Thursday at the Unico Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in La Plata, Italy defeated South Korea 2-1, while Uruguay secured a 1-0 victory against Israel. The same stadium will host the final as well as the third-place playoff.
Uruguay has previously reached the tournament final in 1997 and 2013 but lost to Argentina and France, respectively. On the other hand, this will be Italy’s first appearance in the deciding match.
The match between Italy and South Korea proved to be one of the standout encounters of the tournament, entertaining over 20,000 spectators. Goalkeepers Sebastiano Desplanches and Kim Joon-hong were tested throughout the game.
Italy took the lead in the 14th minute through Cesare Casadei, who has been the standout player of the tournament so far. Despite being closely marked by three South Korean players, Casadei managed to find the back of the net, tallying his seventh goal in the U-20 World Cup. South Korea equalised in the 23rd minute from a penalty kick converted by Lee Seung-won after a video review decision.
Both teams had opportunities to take the lead, including a chance for Italy that required a goal-line review. The deadlock was eventually broken in the 86th minute when substitute Simone Pafundi scored from a free kick. Italy has shown great form in the knockout stages, defeating England and Colombia after finishing third in their group.
In the first semi-final, Uruguay’s target man Anderson Duarte scored the only goal of the match in the 61st minute from close range. It was one of the few chances either team had during the game. Israel’s goalkeeper Tomer Zarfati managed to deflect a shot by Alan Matturro, but Duarte was quicker than the Israeli defenders to find the back of the net.
To reach the final, Uruguay secured the second spot in their group and eliminated Gambia and the United States in the subsequent rounds.
Israel, making their first appearance in the Under-20 World Cup, will face South Korea in the third-place playoff on Sunday.