SUEZ, EGYPT // Hungary reached the semi-finals of the Under 20 World Cup on Friday night after beating Italy 3-2 in a highly charged extra-time thriller that contained four red cards, 44 fouls and finished with both coaches being sent off. Hungary will play Ghana, who beat South Korea 3-2 in the night's other quarter-final thanks to their prolific forward duo Dominic Adiyiah and Ransford Osei.
With Fifa promoting a message of fair play before each match, Italy's clash with Hungary was anything but. Italy defenders Matteo Gentili, Francesco Bini and Michelangelo Albertazzi saw red, as did coach Francesco Rocca for the second time in the tournament. Hungary defender Adrian Szekeres and coach Sandor Egervari were also dismissed. "It was our mental strength that got us through this match," Egervari said. "I've only been in charge of this team one month, but I can feel there is something."
Colombian referee Oscar Ruiz made a brave and correct call, awarding Hungary a penalty inside the first minute after Gentili knocked Krisztian Nemeth over. Vladimir Koman sent goalkeeper Vincenzo Fiorillo the wrong way from the spot to give Hungary a 1-0 lead which they hung on to until eight minutes from time. Italy conjured a wonderful goal in the 82nd minute with a moment of brilliance from Giacomo Bonaventura, whose floated pass over the defence landed for Antonio Mazzotta to equalise.
Extra time was better. Nemeth's two clinical goals gave Hungary the win despite another brilliant Italy goal, scored by the outstanding Bonaventura. "My team will go back to Italy having played a great tournament," Rocca said. Nemeth, who is on the books of Liverpool and currently on loan to AEK Athens, caused Italy's defence problems with his excellent touch and intelligent runs and took his two goals superbly in extra time, although Italy were exhausted by then.
"He was signed by Liverpool, and there is a reason for that - he has real quality," Egervari said. Meanwhile, in the other game, Osei and Adiyiah have now combined for 10 goals at the tournament. Adiyiah is in pole position to clinch the golden boot after taking his tally to six goals with two against South Korea. "We have clinical strikers and that is always the strength of a team," Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh said.