As expected, France won Group E. New Zealand clinched second as Vietnam couldn't find a way past Honduras, and the Hondurans claimed a win on their way out of the 2017 Men's U-20 World Cup.
Only two teams from Group E made it to the knockout rounds. Honduras should get a thank-you note from Germany: by beating Vietnam, Los Catrachos ensured the Germans would be in the round of 16 as one of the top-four third-placed teams from the group stage.
France 2-0 New Zealand
France advances out of the group stage with the sort of record befitting a title-favorite: three wins from three games, nine goals scored, none conceded. In the early stages of this game, however, it appeared that France might pay for believing its own hype. A heavily rotated starting lineup struggled a little to contain New Zealand in the early exchanges. But then Allan Saint-Maximin, in his first appearance of the tournament, made his presence felt.
Allan Saint-Maximin, prodígio da seleção sub-20 da França faz isso ao defesa da Nova Zelândia pic.twitter.com/BVhS6NVY1N— Diário do Futebol (@diariodofut_) May 28, 2017
The 20-year-old moved from St. Etienne to Monaco in 2015, and has Ligue 1 (with St. Etienne and Bastia) and Bundesliga (with Hannover 96) experience. He scored twice in the first half - the second likely intended to be a cross but no less spectacular for that - and France never looked back.
New Zealand 'keeper Michael Woud was the primary reason the score didn't get out of hand.
The All Whites will take some confidence from having held France to just two goals. There was a B-team flavor to the French lineup, but the tournament favorite has a deep squad and New Zealand had to work hard to keep the score down.
Ultimately, both these teams qualified for the round of 16. The only threat to New Zealand's place in the knockout rounds was the possibility Vietnam beat Honduras and combined results in the last games of Group E dropped the All Whites into third place on goal difference. But a big win for Vietnam looked increasingly unlikely as the games progressed. As such, New Zealand was mostly playing this game for pride, and can take satisfaction from holding off the walloping France seemed primed to deliver.
Honduras 2-0 Vietnam
Ultimately, a disappointing game for both sides. Vietnam entered this match knowing a win could put in contention for at least a lucky-loser spot in the knockout rounds. But it needed to be a big win, and that seemed an increasingly unlikely prospect when the first-half closed with Honduras on the front foot and the score 0-0.
Honduras too was on the hunt for a big win, and looked perhaps a little more likely to get it. But finishing has not been a strong point for either of these teams at this tournament.
Los Catrachos did finally open the scoring in the 76th minute through Sendel Cruz. But they needed another five goals to even join the conversation about a place in the round of 16. Jorge Alvarez's stoppage-time strike merely guaranteed Vietnam would be joining Honduras on the way out of this World Cup.
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- France will play Italy on June 1
- New Zealand will play the USA on June 1