Vladyslav Supriaha inspired Ukraine to Under-20 World Cup glory for the first time in their history as he scored twice in a 3-1 comeback win against South Korea.
Ukraine trailed inside five minutes as Lee Kang-in converted from the penalty spot, but Supriaha found the net either side of half-time and Heorhii Tsitaishvili rounded off the scoring late on.
Saturday’s final in Lodz featured two first-time finalists and it was South Korea who made the brighter start thanks to Lee’s spot-kick, awarded after VAR ruled Kim Se-yun had been fouled just inside the area.
Supriaha profited from some slack defending to tap in an equaliser in the 34th minute, however, and he added Ukraine’s second early in the second half after being inadvertently played in by Korea’s Kim Hyun-woo.
Ukraine had Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin to thank for keeping them in front when he pushed Lee Jae-ik’s header on to the frame of the goal.
And Tsitaishvili scored a breakaway third to round off the comeback for Oleksandr Petrakov’s side, who saw off Panama, Colombia and Italy on their way to the final.
From never progressing past the Round of 16 to lifting the trophy, Ukraine’s unprecedented run to the title will be an enduring memory of Poland 2019.
Ukraine could scarcely imagine lifting the trophy before the tournament began. They exited last year’s UEFA European U-19 Championship in the semi-finals and set themselves the target of reaching the knockout phase in Poland. Yet Oleksandr Petrakov’s side made a strong start to the competition, reaching the Round of 16 after just two outings in which they beat USA 2-1 and Qatar 1-0. Although their final group game was a 1-1 draw against Nigeria, it enabled them to rest several key players. Ukraine were uncompromising in defence during the knockout phase, defeating Panama 4-1, Colombia 1-0 and Italy 1-0 on their way to the decider. Even the temporary absence of first-choice goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, who was called up to the senior squad, hardly fazed them.
By contrast, Ukraine made a terrible start to the final, falling behind after just five minutes. However, a Vladyslav Supriaha double put them on course for a place in football’s history books. The result meant the Ukrainians were the only team to remain unbeaten during the tournament.
Having arrived in Poland as AFC U-19 Championship runners-up, Korea Republic were brought down to earth with a bang in their very first game. While the Taeguk Warriors lost 1-0 to European champions Portugal, it proved to be their only defeat until the final. The South Koreans dispatched South Africa 1-0, record champions Argentina 2-1, Japan 1-0 and South American kings Ecuador 1-0. The only drama came in their quarter-final against Senegal, when Lee Jisol levelled the scores at 2-2 in the eighth minute of added time – the latest goal at this tournament – before Korea Republic triumphed on penalties. Although the title was almost within their reach in the final, they ultimately had to settle for silver.
Poland impressed in the group stage in front of their passionate fans in Lodz. All three of the hosts’ matches at the Lodz Stadium – a 2-0 defeat by Colombia, a 5-0 win over Tahiti and a 0-0 draw with Senegal – were sold out. Poland ultimately reached the Round of 16 for the first time in 12 years and only the second time since 1983, before coming up short against European rivals Italy after Andrea Pinamonti scored a Panenka penalty.
Other teams in the spotlight
Four teams celebrated their best-ever finish in this competition:
Ukraine: Winners (previous best: Round of 16)
Korea Republic: runners-up (4th)
Ecuador: Third (Round of 16)
Panama: Round of 16 (group stage)
Tops and flops: Only one team navigated the group stage without conceding a goal: Senegal, who scored five goals while keeping three successive clean sheets – while both Uruguay and France won all three of their group matches before being eliminated in the last 16. The African side eventually exited the competition in one of the most spectacular duels of this World Cup against Korea Republic.
By contrast, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Tahiti, Honduras and Qatar all went home without a point to their name, with the latter three all failing to score.
Facts and figures
Host venues (6): Lublin, Lodz, Gdynia, Bielsko Biala, Bydgoszcz, Tychy
Goals scored: 153 (2.94 goals per game)
Unsung heroes of the World Cup: Around 1,000 volunteers were on hand during the four-week tournament. While most were from Poland, others travelled from Angola, Nigeria, England and Azerbaijan to help at this unique event.
4 – There were no winners after 90 minutes in four of the 16 knockout games:
Round of 16: Colombia 1-1 New Zealand (Colombia won 5-4 on penalties)
Round of 16: Argentina 2-2 Mali a.e.t. (Mali won 5-4 on penalties)
Quarter-finals: Korea Republic 3-3 Senegal a.e.t. (Korea Republic won 3-2 on penalties)
Play-off for third place: Italy 0-1 Ecuador a.e.t.
9.6 – Record-breaking goal: Senegal’s Amadou Sagna scored the fastest goal in #U20WC history against Tahiti in the opening match after merely 9.6 seconds. The previous record-holder was Nigeria’s Monday Odiaka in 1985. Sagna also scored the competition’s first hat-trick in four years.
155 – A total of 155 scouts from all over the world were accredited for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. Most came from Germany (23), England (20), Italy (18), France (13) and Spain (12).
Historic day for Panama: The Central Americans’ 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia on the third matchday in Group E was their first-ever victory at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Their previous 17 games in the competition resulted in four draws and 13 defeats, with Panama scoring ten goals while conceding 34. Reaching the knockout stages was the icing on the cake for the underdogs.
Norway’s record-breaking night: The Scandinavians’ 12-0 victory over Honduras was the highest-scoring win in the history of the competition, while Erling Haland’s nine goals were the largest tally for a single player in one match at any FIFA men’s or women’s tournament. The record was previously held by Adailton, who found the target six times for Brazil in a 10-3 win over Korea Republic in 1997.
Record wins, part two: New Zealand recorded the biggest win in their tournament history when they defeated Honduras 5-0. The Kiwis’ previous best result came just four years earlier in 2015, when they beat Myanmar 5-1. Three days later, New Zealand notched their first-ever win against European opposition with a 2-0 victory over Norway.
1 – Ukraine
2 – Korea Republic
3 – Ecuador
4 – Italy
adidas Golden Ball: Kangin Lee (Korea Republic)
adidas Golden Boot: Erling Haland (Norway)
adidas Golden Glove: Andriy Lunin (Ukraine)
FIFA Fair Play Award: Japan