epa05985870 Riccardo Orsolini (L) of Italy vies for the ball with Malebogo Modise (R) of South Africa during the group stage match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017 between South Africa and Italy in Suwon, South Korea, 24 May 2017. EPA/KIM HEE-CHUL
Wednesday May 24, 2017. 12:02
South Africa suffered a second successive defeat in Group D at the 2017 U-20 World Cup, as they were beaten 2-0 by Italy in Suwon on Wednesday.
The result all but eliminates Amajita (who lost their opener 2-1 to Japan) from the competition, while the Azzurrini have revived their hopes of progression into the knockout rounds.
Italy started strongly and forced SA goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto into a couple of sharp saves inside the opening 20 minutes, with striker Andrea Favilli a particularly dangerous presence up front.
Shortly thereafter the Azzurrini hit the top of the crossbar via a deflected cross from Giuseppe Pezzella, and the subsequent corner kick saw Filippo Romagna head on target only to see his effort cleared off the goal line.
Yet Italy’s pressure soon paid dividends, as Wiseman Meyiwa was adjudged to have tripped Riccardo Orsolini in the 18-yard area. Orsolini himself took the spot kick and easily beat Mpoto to make it 1-0 to the European side on 23 minutes.
The team in blue almost doubled their lead a few minutes before half time when Orsolini cut inside from the left flank and saw his deflected shot travel just wide of Mpoto’s right-hand post.
Italy only had to wait 12 minutes into the second half to make it 2-0, with Favilli scoring a glancing header from a long throw-in by right wingback Giuseppe Scalera. It was no less than Alberigo Evani’s side deserved for their dominance.
Amajita nearly pulled a goal back on 65 minutes when a dipping free kick from Luther Singh almost found its way past goalkeeper Andrea Zaccagno, but the gloves-man did just enough to turn the ball away to safety.
Just under 20 minutes later there was another chance for South Africa, with the ball falling kindly for Reeve Frosler from a corner kick, but the right-back struck his shot just wide of the far post, leaving Italy to pick up a two-goal victory.
South Africa will wrap up their Group D campaign with a clash against Uruguay in Incheon on Saturday, while Italy will face Japan in a concurrent match in Cheonan.