BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – An injury-time explosion gave the United States a 1-0 win against Ecuador in their opening match at the U20 World Cup on Saturday.
After some inspiration from both teams in San Juan, left back Jonathan Gomez shot from the edge of the box a minute before the final whistle to beat goalkeeper Gilmar Napa.
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Until Gomez’s winner was the best option on the hour after an embarrassing error from Ecuador’s Napa. His clearance hit his defender Christian Garcia in the face. The ball fell to the American striker Diego Luna, who despite the empty goal shot wide.
Ecuador, the team of teenage sensation striker Kendry Paez, did not produce a single shot on target.
The USA finished the first round of play in second place in Group B after Slovakia beat Fiji 4-0. The Americans could now secure their place in the next round with a win against Fiji on Tuesday. The same could happen to Slovakia in its match against Ecuador.
The first goal of the tournament came from New Zealand, with Norman Garbett scoring the only goal in the 80th minute to beat Guatemala in a Group A match.
Later, Argentina beat Uzbekistan 2-1, with all three goals coming in the first half.
Argentina inherited Indonesia’s place in the tournament as hosts. Protests in Muslim-majority Indonesia against hosting Israel forced FIFA to make a very late change of venues. Indonesia does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.