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NZ exit Fifa Under 20 World Cup

The New Zealand under-20 team qualified last year for the FIFA Under-20 Men's World Cup in Poland. - Photo: OFC via Phototek.

New Zealand's excellent Fifa under-20 men's World Cup campaign has come to a heartbreaking end, at the hands of Colombia in a penalty shootout in Lodz, Poland, on Monday New Zealand time.

The Junior All Whites looked on track for a first quarterfinal appearance when goalkeeper Michael Woud saved the first two Colombian penalties, one to his left and one to his right.

He then parried the third penalty over the bar but the referee controversially ordered a re-take, deciding Michael have advanced off his line too early. Colombia then didn't miss another penalty, while Joe Bell, Gianni Stensness and Matt Conroy all had unsuccessful attempts.

New Zealand were arguably the better team across the 120 minutes, creating more chances and getting better as the game progressed, and they looked the more likely team to break the 1-1 deadlock in the 30 minutes of extra time.

Sarpreet Singh flashed a couple of shots just wide from neat the edge of the penalty box while Max Mata hot a close-range header straight at the keeper. For all that Colombia nearly stole the match with a quick counter at the end of extra time, but Michael made a brilliant save one-on-one to send the match to a shootout.

Colombia shaded the early exchanges and got the opening goal in the 11th minute when Andres Reyes got his head on a free-kick and glided the ball into the corner of Michael's net from close range.

But New Zealand, who had beaten Honduras and Norway in group play, responded well and grew into what was an excellent game with both teams looking strong on the counter.

The Kiwis got a deserved equalizer in the 25th minute when left back Liberato Cacace hammered a ball into Elijah Just, who deflected it into the net for his first goal of the tournament.

The second half was shot of clear-cut chances. The best of them fell to Just when he evaded his defender and found himself one on one with the keeper, but the chip didn't have enough on it and was cleared off the line by a Colombian defender.

Colombia 1 (Andres Reyes 11') New Zealand 1 (Elijah Just 35'). HT: 1-1. FT 1-1. ET: 1-1. Shootout: 5-4.

-Stuff.co.nz

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