Seoul (AFP) – The United States have raised hopes of a surprise Under-20 World Cup win after they stormed into the quarter-finals with a 6-0 win over New Zealand.
Seventeen-year-old Josh Sargent equalled the American record with his fourth goal at the tournament as the USA ran riot late on Thursday.
On Sunday, the USA will face Venezuela in the quarter-finals, while Portugal play Uruguay. Italy take on Zambia and England play Mexico on Monday.
The United States have never won a men’s world football title at any level, although their women’s team are three-time World Cup champions.
Sargent scored the opener against New Zealand on 32 minutes, tying the USA’s tournament record shared by Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellman.
It paved the way for five more goals in the second half, all from different scorers.
“Obviously it’s a great feeling, but I’m not here to focus on myself, I’m here to help the team win games,” Sargent told FIFA.com after equalling the national record.
“Everyone put their heart on the line and gave everything they had and you can see that in the result. It was a great win.”
Elsewhere Italy gained revenge for last year’s U19 European final defeat to France when they won 2-1 to set up a quarter-final against Zambia.
Hosts South Korea bowed out 3-1 to Portugal, disappointing their legion of fans who had hoped for a repeat of their stunning run to the 2002 senior World Cup semis.
Japan lost 1-0 to Venezuela as Asian hopes died before the last eight. Zambia stunned heavyweights Germany on penalties, and six-time champions Argentina failed even to reach the knock-outs.
Everton’s Ademola Lookman scored both of England’s goals in their 2-1 win over Costa Rica, as the Young Lions also eyed their first U20 World Cup title.
England now look ahead to Monday’s quarter-final against Mexico, whose substitute Ronaldo Cisneros scored the only goal on 89 minutes to down 10-man Senegal.