Hosts Argentina produced a master class of age group football when they outplayed New Zealand 5-0 before a frenzied home crowd at the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup.
Before a 20,000-plus crowd at San Juan’s Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario, the home side ran the New Zealanders ragged and controlled the game from the start.
The result ensures Argentina go through to the knockout stages as winners of Group B.
New Zealand’s loss, and a win by Uzbekistan against Guatemala, means the Kiwis finish third in the group and will need to await the results from other groups in coming days, to see whether they can qualify for the Round of 16, needing to be one of the four best-performing third-placed teams.
Main photo: New Zealand goalkeeper Kees Sims had a busy evening in San Juan as Argentina had 30 shots on goal.
Argentina took the lead in the 14th minute when they work a short corner and winger Brian Aguirre aims a cross to the far post where Ignacio Maestro Puch heads it into the top right corner.
Three minutes later, Argentina doubled their lead when Luka Romero sent Gina Infantino through and his shot flew past goalkeeper Kees Sims and inside the post.
Romera made it 3-0 with an outstanding strike from 30 metres. The Lazio youngster created space for himself and then unleashed a powerful shot that flew into the roof of the net, giving Sims no chance.
New Zealand went into the break after a torrid first half in which they had to survive on scraps — less than 30% of the ball — and after backpedalling to defend against frequent Argentina attacks.
Soon after the interval, New Zealand’s plight got worse.
After a VAR review, referee Salman Falahi ruled a penalty and booked Aaryan Raj for handball.
Aguirre stepped up and stroked the ball into the net, extending the home side’s lead to 4-0.
Both sides went to their benches for the last half-hour and the changes, and slower pace of the game, suited the New Zealanders.
Argentina still had chances but the New Zealanders put in plenty of effort and certainly did not let their heads drop.
Argentina added their fifth goal with four minutes to go when Perrone delivered a perfect cross for substitute Alejo Véliz to powerfully head home from close range.
The result leaves New Zealand watching other group games for results that need to go their way, if they are to qualify as one of the best-performing third-placed sides.
If they do progress to the Round of 16, tired legs and injuries to key players will be of concern to the New Zealand coaches.
Captain Finn Surman went into the Argentina game with a sore calf and was substituted in the 57th minute, apparently feeling the effects of the injury.
Head coach Darren Bazely and midfielder Fin Conchie provided interviews immediately after the final whistle.
READ MORE: New Zealand remain hopeful they’ll get chance to go into knockout phase >>>>
New Zealand / Argentina
Possession: 23% / 77%
Shots: 0 / 30
Shots on target: 0 / 9
Passes: 266 / 856
Pass completion: 75% / 92%
Corners: 0 / 11
Games played on Saturday May 27, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand 0
Argentina 5 (Ignacio Maestro Puch 14′, Gina Infantino 17′, Luka Romero 35′, Brian Aguirre 50′ pen, Alejo Véliz 86′)
Uzbekistan 2 (Shakhzodjon Nematjonov 9′, 20′)
Kees Sims, Aaryan Raj, Finn Surman (captain) (Everton O’Leary 57′), Finn Linder, Adam Supyk, Jackson Manuel, Fin Conchie, Jackson Jarvie, Noah Karunaratne (Jay Herdman 46′), Oliver Colloty (Kian Donkers 71′), Norman Garbett (Oli Fay 71′).
Subs not used: Henry Gray, Albert Kelly-Heald, Isaac Hughes, Dan McKay, Benjamin Wallace, Lukas Kelly-Heald.
Yellow card: Raj (49′)
Head coach: Darren Bazeley.
Assistant coaches: Paul Temple, Martin Bullock.
Goalkeeper coach: Glen Moss.
Federico Gomes Gerth (Nicolas Claa 63′), Roman Vega, Valentin Gomez (Valentin Barco 56′), Lautaro Di Lollo, Juan Carlos Gauto (Matias Soulé 46′), Luka Romero (Maximo Perrone 69;, Federico Redondo, Gino Infantino, Ignacio Miramon, Brian Aguirre, Ignacio Maestro Puch (Alejo Veliz 69′).
Subs not used: Lucas Lavagnino, Agustin Giay, Valentin Carboni, Mateo Tanlongo.
Head coach: Javier Mascherano
Assistant coaches: Lucas Rodriguez, Leandro Stillitano
Goalkeeper coach: Mauro Dobler
Referee: Salman Falahi (Qatar)
Assistant referees: Ramzan Al Naemi (Qatar), Majid Al Shammari (Qatar)
Fourth official: Ahmad Al Ali (Kuwait)
VAR: Guillermo Cuadra (Spain)
Assistant VAR: Ahmed Darwish (United Arab Emirates)