Italy win at Under-20 World Cup sets up final with Uruguay

Italy players celebrate after scoring a goal against South Korea in the semifinals of the U20 World Cup. Getty Images

Italy will face Uruguay in the final of the 2023 Under-20 World Cup on Sunday after both teams won their semifinal matchups on Thursday in Buenos Aires.

Both matches took place Unico Diego Armando Maradona Stadium at La Plata, which will also host the final and third-place game.

Uruguay beat surprise last-four side Israel 1-0 earlier in the day before Simone Pafundi scored a spectacular free kick to hand Italy a late 2-1 win over South Korea and a first appearance in the U20 title game.

Cesare Casadei opened the scoring for Italy in the 14th minute, but the game was back on level terms shortly after when Lee Seung-Won converted a spot kick following a VAR decision that awarded South Korea a penalty.

With the game seemingly headed to extra time, Italy were handed a free kick just outside of the penalty area in the 86th minute and Pafundi curled an unstoppable free kick over the wall to hand his team a spot in the final.

Before the winner, both teams had squandered golden opportunities to get ahead, including one for Italy that required goal line review. The Italian lineup has been resurgent in the knockout rounds with wins over England and Colombia after placing third in its group.

In the first match of the day, Anderson Duarte scored the only goal of the match for Uruguay -- who reached the U20 final in 1997 and 2013 before losing -- from close range in the 61st minute from with one of the few opportunities either team had during the match.

Israel goalkeeper Tomer Zarfati deflected a shot by Alan Matturro and it hit his left post, but Duarte was quicker than the Israeli defenders to put the ball in the back of the net.

After the goal, Israel had few opportunities to equalize in the remaining 30 minutes.

Uruguay also reached tournament final in 1997 and 2013. The Celeste lost those to Argentina and France, respectively.

Israel, which is playing in the competition for the first time, will play the third-place match Sunday against South Korea.

Protests in Muslim-majority Indonesia against hosting the Israel team forced FIFA into a very late switch of venues, with Argentina stepping in late to stage the tournament.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.