By DAVID MOSSE
England hasn't made a habit of winning too many penalty shootouts, but the Three Lions Under-17 squad did just that on Thursday, overcoming Argentina following a 1-1 draw to reach the quarterfinals of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. John Peacock's side fell behind to a goal by Maximiliano Padilla after 12 minutes, but Raheem Sterling equalized before halftime and England was the better team.
Next up is another familiar foe in Germany, which continues to steamroll past every opponent. The latest victim was a United States team that faded dramatically over the course of four games, and couldn't cope with the likes of Koray Guenter and Samed Yesil in Thursday's 4-0 rout. France became the third European team to advance after surviving a thrilling clash with the Ivory Coast.
The amazing Souleymane Coulibaly found the back of the net for the ninth time, and he will likely be remembered as the star of the competition, despite his team's relatively early exit. France's winner came courtesy of Yassine Benzia, who scored twice and set up another in the 3-2 victory, which sends Patrick Gonfalone's side into a highly-anticipated matchup with Mexico on Monday.
The hosts took care of business against fellow CONCACAF representative Panama, picking up a 2-0 win in front of a boisterous crowd. Carlos Fierro and Marco Bueno supplied the goals, as Mexico moved one step closer to capturing its second title at this level. Three-time champion Brazil also eliminated a regional opponent, as the Selecao brushed aside Ecuador 2-0 on Wednesday.
Sao Paulo striker Ademilson opened the scoring early in the first half and substitute Leo added a second three minutes from time to seal the win, setting up a fascinating encounter with Japan. Few teams have looked as impressive as Hirofumi Yoshitake's side, which put six past New Zealand on Wednesday for the most lopsided victory of the second round. Expect plenty of goals in this one.
Uruguay and Uzbekistan, meanwhile, have quietly gone about their business, and the two teams meet on Sunday with a semifinal berth on the line. The South Americans came from behind to beat Congo 2-1, while the Uzbeks have rebounded nicely from a loss to New Zealand in their opening game to win three in a row, including hammering Australia, 4-0, in the Round of 16.
Here is a closer look at the four quarterfinal matchups:
Uruguay vs. Uzbekistan, Sunday, 4 p.m.
Uruguay looked to be in trouble when Congo took the lead through Hardy Binguila early in the second half of Wednesday's second-round clash, but Maximiliano Moreira and Gaston Silva found the back of the net to overturn matters, and the Celeste held on for a thrilling 2-1 victory. Striker Juan Cruz Mascia could be back in the lineup, providing a big boost against Uzbekistan.
The Uzbeks made an inauspicious start to the tournament with a 4-1 defeat to New Zealand, but a victory over the United States in the second game served as a turning point and Aleksey Evstafeev's side has kept improving ever since. Abbosbek Makhstaliev and Timur Khakimov were among the goalscorers in the impressive 4-0 mauling of Australia last time out.
Japan vs. Brazil, Sunday, 7 p.m.
Brazil continues to coast along without looking all that convincing, but Emerson Avila's side will need to be at its best on Sunday against one of the sensations of the tournament. Lucas Piazon and Nathan are both suspended, and it remains to be seen whether right back Wallace will be available after being forced to exit the second-round clash with Ecuador due to a back injury.
Ademilson, who missed out on the qualifying campaign, has already scored four times in as many games. Japan counters with Hideki Ishige and Fumiya Hayakawa, who found the back of the net twice each in the 6-0 thrashing of New Zealand in the previous round. Takumi Minamino also added a goal, as the Japanese attack has certainly flexed its muscles in Mexico.
Germany vs. England, Monday, 4 p.m.
Germany has scored a remarkable 15 goals in four games and could prove too much for England, especially if goalkeeper Jordan Pickford doesn't improve upon his performance from Thursday. Pickford was at fault on Argentina's goal, and very nearly gifted the South Americans a winner in the 75th minute by allowing a soft free kick to trickle through his legs and almost over the line.
It's been a balanced attack for Steffen Freund's side with six different players finding the back of the net more than once. Yesil and Mitchell Weiser lead the way with three apiece, while Guenter was particularly impressive in the 4-0 win over the United States on Thursday. The defense hasn't been tested so far, but goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos looks fairly reliable.
France vs. Mexico, Monday, 7 p.m.
Mexico is starting to believe this could be a special summer, but the hosts face a French squad sparkling with talent. Benzia is the tournament's second leading scorer with five goals and has benefited from the service provided by dazzling playmaker Abdallah Yaisien, the latest youngster to draw comparisons to Zinedine Zidane. The pair can be very difficult to contain.
Lenny Nangis found the back of the net in the 3-2 victory over the Ivory Coast and is a very talented player as well, so Mexico's back-line must be ready on Monday. The good news is that Raul Gutierrez can count on an excellent goalkeeper in FC Dallas Homegrown Player Richard Sanchez and plenty of firepower of his own with Carlos Fierro and Arturo Gonzalez, who are capable of causing problems for any defense.
Who do you see winning the four quarterfinal matchups?
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