Argentina out and NZ through to playoffs at U20 World Cup
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Pre-tournament favorite Argentina was eliminated in the group stage at the Under-20 World Cup for the first time in 24 years after drawing 0-0 with Austria on Friday.
The Argentines were knocked out by host New Zealand's 5-1 defeat of Myanmar. New Zealand advanced as one of the four best third-placed teams in group play.
Meanwhile, Austria advanced for only the second time, along with Ghana and Ukraine.
Argentina took only two points from three matches in Group B after a loss against Ghana and draws against Panama and Austria, and needed to win and New Zealand not to win.
''We don't deserve to be out of the World Cup at this stage,'' Argentina coach Humberto Grondona said. ''We expected a lot of ourselves and came to New Zealand with high hopes.
''We gave it our all today but the ball just didn't want to go into the back to the net. Now we've got to hope for a miracle.''
Argentina, the champion six times, pressed Austria relentlessly, securing 71 percent of possession and creating 27 shots on goal, but despite its energetic attempts, it couldn't break down the disciplined and well-ordered Austria defense.
Playmaker Angel Correa was a constant threat but even his outstanding range of skills couldn't crack the Austrians.
New Zealand posted its first win at a FIFA tournament, after conceding an early goal to Myanmar. The Kiwis equalized with their first goal at a FIFA under-20 tournament, by Noah Billingsley in the 40th.
New Zealand lost 4-0 to the U.S. in its previous match, showing a lack of firepower in front of goal, but it found its scoring touch after halftime. From 1-1 it took charge of the match with four goals. New Zealand was third in Group A.
Ghana reached the round of 16 with a 1-0 win over Panama, scoring the match-winning goal in the 82nd minute through Emmanuel Boateng.
Ghana topped Group B with seven points and advanced with Austria, which finished second on five points.
Ghana seemed lethargic at times against Panama, but began to show real urgency in the last 10 minutes as the three points it anticipated seemed like eluding it.
Substitute Boateng decided the contest with a brilliant solo goal, driving forward strongly, twisting away from the challenge of Francisco Narbon, and curling a superb 20-yard shot just inside the right-hand post.
''Our opponents surprised me,'' Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh said. ''I was in shock simply because at the World Cup you see such different standards of performance, and today Panama played very well.''
Viktor Kovalenko scored a hat trick as Ukraine clinched its place in the knockout rounds with a 3-0 win over the United States. While the loss was a setback, the U.S. will also progress after winning its first two matches in Group A.
Ukraine and the U.S. played out a tight and scoreless first half before the Europeans took control through Kovalenko in the second half.