Serbia pulled off a historic 2-1 win in extra time to beat heavily favored Brazil in the final of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland yesterday.
The scores were locked at 1-1 at the end of regulation time and the creative Nemanja Maksimovic put away the winner with two minutes remaining in extra time.
He pushed a through ball from Andrija Zivkovic past Jean to bring success for Serbia, who were in the tournament for the first time as an independent nation, although their Yugoslavia predecessors won in 1987.
The gentle tap left the Brazilians in despair, with their dreams of atoning for an embarrassing last year — when they suffered a record 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals — left in tatters.
Maksimovic set up Serbia’s opening goal in the 70th minute with a cross to Stanisa Mandic, who slammed a close-range shot past Jean.
However, they had little time to celebrate as Brazil struck back almost immediately with a brilliant solo effort by substitute Andreas Pereira.
The Manchester United youngster weaved his way through the Serbia defenders and whipped the ball past a diving Predrag Rajkovic to send the game into extra time.
Brazil dominated the early stages, with Jean Carlos and Gabriel both testing Rajkovic, while just before halftime, Sergej Milinkovic had a header on goal at the other end of the field, but Jean pulled off the save.
After the break, Danilo had a chance for Brazil that went over the bar and Gabriel was wide with another shot as the South American side continued to do most of the attacking and put pressure on the Serbia goal.
However, it was Mandic who broke the deadlock after Maksimovic had broken down the right side.
Three minutes later, Pereira produced his moment of magic to level the score, less than 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute, to ensure the Under-20 World Cup final would go into extra time for the fourth consecutive time.
Driving rain added to the difficulty of playing the extra 30 minutes as Malcom, Andreas Pereira, Jean Carlos and Joao Pedro continued to work away at Rajkovic.
However, the Serbia goalkeeper remained up to the task and as the spirit started to sag in the Brazil camp, Maksimovic came through for Serbia.
In the playoff for third and fourth at the same ground earlier in the day, Adama Traore produced two sensational long-range strikes to help Mali beat 10-man Senegal 3-1.
Senegal’s Ibrahima Wadji opened the scoring in the 64th minute and Diadie Samassekou completed the scoring with a free-kick.
Senegal defender Moussa Ba was sent off in the final minute of the first half by Egyptian referee Ghead Grisha for a second yellow card.
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