ISTANBUL (AP) — Portugal and Nigeria won their final Group B matches to reach the last 16 of the Under-20 World Cup on Thursday, while third-place South Korea still has a chance of advancing.
Spain and France had already advanced from Group A, and Spain won the group with a 2-1 win over the French. Captain Paco Alcacer and Jese scored before substitute Thibaut Vion found the net for France in injury time.
The United States, which hasn’t reached the knockout stages since 2007, finished last in the group after a 4-1 defeat by Ghana.
Portugal striker Bruma scored his fourth and fifth goals of the event to help the two-time champions beat Cuba 5-0 and top the group, while Nigeria defeated South Korea 1-0 after an early goal by Olarenwaju Kayode and overtook the Asians for second place.
Ricardo, Aladje and To Ze also found the net for Portugal, while Bruma almost added a sixth but hit the crossbar.
It was Portugal’s biggest ever win in the competition, improving on 3-0 defeats of Argentina in 1991 and the Netherlands four years later.
Portugal won the title in 1989 and ‘91 and finished runner-up to Brazil two years ago. Cuba, which lost all three games and became the first team to be eliminated, was making its debut appearance.
Nigeria secured its victory after Kayode was left unmarked by the South Korean defense and headed home a free kick by captain Abdul Ajagun in the ninth minute.
South Korea still has a chance to advance as one of the best four third-place teams.
Ghana had more possession in the opening half hour but the U.S. was still able to create three scoring chances. However, a header and later a shot by Mario Rodriguez both lacked power, and a powerful 20-meter (yard) effort by Jose Villarreal brought a diving save from goalkeeper Eric Antwi.
U.S. keeper Cody Cropper reacted quickly while lying on the ground to save a shot from six meters by Lawrence Lartey In the 35th minute.
But Cropper had no chance shortly afterward, when several American defenders failed to clear the ball from the area and Frank Acheampong fired home a low shot.
Another piece of weak defending allowed the unmarked Ebenezer Assifuah to curl the ball past Cropper in the 58th the minute.
Shane O’Neill pulled a goal back for the Americans from Oscar Sorto’s cross in the 69th, the U.S. wasn’t able to stage a comeback.
Assifuah scored his second of the game nine minutes later and Kennedy Ashia added Ghana’s in the 83rd.
It was the first defeat for the U.S. team against an African opponent since losing 2-0 to Egypt in 2001.
The U.S. qualified for Turkey after finishing runner-up to Mexico in the CONCACAF Under-20 championship earlier this year.
But it was drawn into what is widely regarded as the toughest group with two European powerhouses and Ghana, which won the title in 2009 and has never failed to qualify for the knockout stage in its five previous appearances.