A clinical performance by a well-organised United States has sent New Zealand crashing out of the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in Argentina.
The Darren Bazley-coached side were beaten 4-0 by the United States in the Round of 16 tie at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza.
The New Zealanders had their chances early but their opponents controlled the game and gradually exerted their superiority.
New Zealand had the first half-chance of the game after five minutes when a counter-attack created a three-on-three as the United States defenders back-pedalled.
Norman Garbett’s attempted strike was deflected by a defender and the ball looped into the hands of ‘keeper Gaga Slonina.
The VAR officials spent three minutes checking replays of the incident before they ruled there was no handball by the defender.
In the 11th minute, Jay Herdman struck a left-footed shot on target but a diving Slonina turned the ball around the post for a corner.
Main photo: United States goalkeeper Gaga Slonina is at full stretch to turn Jay Herdman’s shot to safety.
A few minutes later, the United States went ahead when Owen Wolff struck a low shot from 25 metres and the ball sneaked inside the post, centimetres from the outstretched glove of New Zealand ‘keeper Kees Sims.
In the 20th minute, New Zealand almost went further behind when a United States shot was deflected off captain Finn Surman and the ball flew onto the crossbar, almost an own goal.
For the rest of the half, the United States dominated possession and territory but New Zealand worked hard and looked to break quickly when they won possession.
Referee Mohamed Marouf played eight additional minutes at the end of the first-half, and the United States had a couple of decent chances.
Sims got down quickly to save one goal-bound shot while another attempt was fired wide.
By half-time, the United States had managed 11 shots (three on target) from their 71% possession, with a pass accuracy of 90%.
By comparison, New Zealand had produced three shots (two on target) from 29% of the ball, with a pass accuracy of 79%.
Five minutes into the second half, the United States should have gone 2-0 up but Jonathan Gomez turned the ball wide when in front of the New Zealand goal.
The United States continued to put pressure on the New Zealanders and they broke through with a well-taken goal on the hour when Cade Cowell rifled home a left-footer from just inside the area.
Diego Luna could have made it 3-0 in the 64th minute but he dragged his shot wide of the New Zealand post.
With nothing to lose, New Zealand pushed players forward in a desperate effort to get back into the tie.
But this created an opportunity for Luna to break from his own half in the 75th minute. His effort was repelled; a rebound was blocked and Justin Che then smashed the ball into the net from right in front.
In the 82nd minute, the United States stretched their lead to 4-0 when substitute Rokas Pukštas headed home a curling free kick from Brian Raig.
To their credit, the New Zealanders did not fold, and continued to battle for the nine minutes of added time.
United States / New Zealand
Shots: 22 / 3
Shots on target: 9 / 1
Possession: 60% / 40%
Passes: 593 / 406
Pass accuracy: 86% / 82%
Fouls: 14 / 12
Corners: 7 / 4
Offsides: 0 / 4
Full match replay
Game played on Wednesday May 31, 2023
United States 4 (Owen Wolff 14′, Cade Cowell 61′, Justin Che 75′, Rokas Pukštas 82′)
New Zealand 0
Kees Sims, Isaac Hughes, Finn Surman, Lukas Kelly-Heald, Finn Linder (Aaryan Raj, 50′), Dan McKay (Noah Karunaratne 66′), Fin Conchie, Jay Herdman, Norman Garbett, Ben Wallace (Oli Fay 80′), Oliver Colloty (Kian Donkers 81′).
Subs not used: Henry Gray, Albert Kelly-Heald, Jackson Jarvie, Adam Supyk, Jackson Manuel, Everton O’Leary.
Gaga Slonina, Caleb Wiley (Michael Halliday 71′), Joshua Wynder, Brandan Raig, Daniel Edelman (captain), Jack McGlynn (Obed Vargas 71′), Cade Cowell, (Kevin Paredes 83′), Diego Luna (Niko Tsakiris 79′), Jonathan Gomez, Owen Wolff (Rokas Pukstas 79′), Justin Che.
Subs not used: Antonio Carrera, Alexander Borto, Quinn Sullivan, Marcus Ferkranus, Darren Tapi.
Referee: Mohamed Marouf (EGY)
Assistant referee 1: Zakaria Brinsi (MAR)
Assistant referee 2: Abbes Akram Zerhouni (ALG)
Fourth officials: Donatas Rumsas (LTU)
Reserve assistant referee: Ivanildo Lopes (ANG)
VAR: Aleandro Di Paolo (ITA)
Assistant VAR 1: BRANCO Luis Miguel Branco (POR)