A silver lining to this onslaught of rain; the Argentine Under 20 team have qualified for the World Cup in South Korea. Quito seems to be lucky ground for Argentine football recently, seeing the Sub 20 boys bagging a 2-0 win against Venezuela and last week playing host to the unbelievably lucky Atlético Tucumán who strangely enough played in the Sub 20 kit.
During the tournament the Sub 20 team have experienced some turbulent times, but it all came down to the last game on Saturday. The pressure was on: Argentina either needed to win by a 5-goal margin or come on top by a lower difference and hope Brazil didn’t beat Colombia. Claudio Ubeda’s squad turned out eager for victory and delivered the goods, but the 2-0 win meant that Colombia, who already had no chance of qualifying, had to snatch points from Brazil for the miracle to happen.
Luckily, the football gods answered their calls in the form of a goalless draw, resulting in the immediate celebration of the Argentine team present at the stadium.
The results sat Argentina on seven points alongside Ecuador and Venezuela with their minus three goal difference putting them at fourth place. Neighbors Uruguay raced ahead of the pack, totaling twelve points out of the possible 15.
In a game awash with bookings action was not lacking. Together the teams saw a total of six yellow cards (five for Venezuela and one for Argentina) and a red for Argentina in the closing minutes.
With only three minutes till the halftime whistle, goal number one arrived from striker Lautaro Martínez. His delightful touch unhinged the defense and he slotted a decisive and accurate shot out of the keeper’s grasping reach into the bottom corner.
Spurred on by breaking the deadlock, the team’s drive picked up and two minutes later goal number two arrived putting the game out of reach. A searching lofted through-ball coupled with a darting run from Martínez pressured the Venezuelan defense, the ball again found the confident head of Martínez who spectacularly lobbed keeper, Wilker Fariñez and secured the second. A header that any striker would be proud to claim.
The squad will now have to get ready for May, hoping to recreate the success they saw ten years ago when they won the prestigious competition for the last time.