The United States improved its chances of reaching the knockout stage of the Under-20 World Cup by playing to a 1-1 draw with France on Monday in Istanbul on an 85th-minute goal by substitute Daniel Cuevas.
“I feel like they were confused,” he said. “They couldn’t get the ball out and luckily it took a bounce my way and I got to push it in.”
With France and Spain having won their openers, the U.S. needs a victory in its final match against Ghana to advance outright. But it could still advance as one of the best third-place teams.
“Our team is very united and we are always together and pushing forward,” Cuevas said. “If things don’t go our way, we keep trying and keep trying until they do. Luckily we got the tie.”
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Spain beat Ghana, 1-0, in a lackluster match Monday to secure a spot in the next round. In the other early game in Group B, Nigeria defeated Cuba, 3-0, with Aminu Umar scoring twice in four minutes.
France appeared set to beat the Americans and advance after Yaya Sanogo scored his second goal of the tournament. His penalty kick in the 48th minute came after Dimitri Foulquier was sideswiped by America’s Javan Torre in the penalty area.
“I don’t think we had a great control of the game tonight,” France coach Pierre Mankowski said. “It feels a bit strange because the U.S. team was hardly dangerous. But they had situations they should have never had. We conceded a penalty and a free kick, which led to their goal.”
The U.S., which lost its opening match to Spain, had few chances and missed those it did have — the worst when Luis Gil’s penalty was easily saved in the 65th minute. But the Americans grew more confident toward the end and it paid off when Cuevas pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area.
U.S. coach Tab Ramos was a “little disappointed” with the sloppy play early on, but happy to come away with a draw.
“In a game like today we should have gotten all three points,” he said. “At the end of the day, it was great courage (and) effort by our team.”
UNREST IN BRAZIL
With anti-government protests worrying Brazil, FIFA and Brasilia sought to highlight the benefits of the World Cup investment, while stressing that the civil unrest during the Confederations Cup test event posed no threat to the 2014 tournament.
More than a million Brazilians have taken to the streets to protest the lack of spending in public services.
International soccer: US 1, france 1 (u20)