Five-time champions Brazil limped into the FIFA Under-20 World Cup quarter-finals yesterday after a penalty shoot-out with Uruguay, while fellow heavyweights Germany eased through 1-0 without even hitting top gear.
Hosts New Zealand gave two-time tournament winners Portugal an almighty scare before succumbing to a late goal and Uzbekistan eliminated Austria 2-0.
Germany maintained the ominous form that saw them score 16 goals in the group stage to comfortably down Nigeria, one of the tournament favorites.
In contrast, Brazil looked unconvincing against Uruguay, eventually advancing 5-4 on penalties after the both sides failed to find the net in 120 minutes.
They began slowly against familiar South American opponents, who also held them to a 0-0 stalemate during the tournament qualifiers in January.
There were glimpses of brilliance when Brazil finally went on the attack in the second half, but they lacked a killer touch in front of goal, despite the dazzling passing and movement in the buildup.
Captain Danilo somehow hit high in front of an open goal and was also unlucky to see a dipping long-range shot hit the crossbar.
Uruguay took their chances with spot-kicks, but paid the price when Rodrigo Maral sent his over the bar.
Brazil next face Portugal in the last eight.
Portugal also looked shaky against a plucky New Zealand side cheered on by an eager crowd in Hamilton.
The Europeans went ahead on 24 minutes after a piece of wizardry from Raphael Guzzo, who spun away from his defender then unleashed a snap-shot past the goalkeeper.
The hosts clawed back an equalizer midway through the second half, when substitute Stuart Holthusen swooped on a loose ball in the Uruguay penalty area.
New Zealand threatened their more fancied opponents, but Gelson Martins netted an 87th-minute winner, evading two defenders to send a curling shot into the corner.
The Germany-Nigeria clash pitted Europe’s top qualifiers against the African youth champions and it was the Super Eagles who created the early chances, but Germany changed the game in a flash when Marc Stendera dispossessed a defender and flicked on the ball to Levin Oeztunali, who buried it in the corner with a left-foot drive.
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