By JUSTIN FERGUSON
The final of what has been an exciting FIFA Under-20 World Cup was set on Wednesday after two hard-fought semifinal matches in Turkey.
In a rematch of an earlier “Group of Death” clash, France punched a ticket to its first U-20 World Cup Final with a 2-1 win over 2009 champions Ghana. Lille midfielder Florian Thauvin notched both goals for France, who was appearing in its second straight semifinal.
Thauvin scored the opener just two minutes before halftime, linking up with Jean-Cristophe Bahebeck and coolly slotting the ball into the back of the net. Ebenezer Assifuah leveled right out of the break with a superb individual effort, but Thauvin would have the last laugh with a bouncing 74th-minute winner.
In the second semifinal, Iraq was unable to register back-to-back wins in penalties and fell 7-6 in a shootout to Uruguay. After exchanging conversions with its South American opponent, Iraq midfielder Saif Selman’s miss put Uruguay in the final.
The two sides played out a 1-1 draw before heading to penalties. Ali Adnan’s free kick goal in the first half looked to be enough for the underdog Iraqis, but a Gonzalo Bueno strike in the 87th minute kept Uruguay’s hopes alive.
Here are some more stories to wrap up your Wednesday:
MANCHESTER CITY EYE NEW STRIKER
After selling Carlos Tevez to Juventus, Manchester City have made signing a new striker their top priority in the transfer window.
New manager Manuel Pellegrini did not name any specific targets during his first press conference since taking over for Roberto Mancini, but he stressed the need for a striker to join midfield signings Fernandinho and Jesus Navas.
“We have two strikers (Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko) and we need another one, but I am not talking about any names,” Pellegrini told reporters.
Reports have linked Man City to Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo, one of Navas’s former teammates, and Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic, who has attracted the attention of English Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.
AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN, NFL OWNER LINKED TO FULHAM PURCHASE
The infusion of American ownership into the English Premier League is showing no signs of slowing down.
Reports out of England indicate Pakistani-born American billionaire Shahid Khan is in talks to buy Fulham from 84-year-old Mohamed Al-Fayed, who has owned the club since 1997.
Khan is the owner of automobile parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate and the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, who are contracted to play a game at London’s Wembley Stadium for the next four seasons. If Khan purchased Fulham, he would become the fourth NFL owner to also own an EPL club, joining Malcolm Glazer (Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Stan Kroenke (Arsenal and the St. Louis Rams) and Randy Lerner (Aston Villa and the Cleveland Browns).
The price for Fulham is rumored to be around $225 million. Al-Fayed bought the struggling fourth-division club for $10 million in 1997 and has pumped close to $300 million into the now top-flight side.
Aston Villa have reportedly set a £30 million ($44.8 million) price tag on transfer-listed striker Christian Benteke. (REPORT)
According to reports in Germany, a proposed deal taking Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner to Eintracht Frankfurt has fallen through. (REPORT)
Southampton is close to signing highly touted midfielder Victor Wanyama from Celtic. (REPORT)
UEFA claims a Spanish second division match between Racing Santander and Hercules was fixed. (REPORT)
One third-division team in Nigeria has been disbanded and three others have been banned after two promotion playoff matches finished 67-0 and 79-0. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Who do you have winning the U-20 World Cup Final? Think Man City will be able to land a big-name striker this summer? Excited to see the chance of more American investment in the EPL?
Share your comments below.