The English scored four as they outclassed the West Asians in Kolkata.
Arguably, the most high voltage game of the group, the match started with a rather expected high note. England head coach Steve Cooper made seven changes in his squad, including goalscorers from the previous game, Philip Foden and Rhian Brewster. Mohammed Dawood, the star striker of the Asian Champions Iraq also started the game as a substitute, making the Iraqi side rather unpredictable against the European giants.
England started the game with an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with the opponents Iraq beginning with also an attacking formation 3-4-3. The early minutes of the game saw the Iraqis making several forward runs, most notably by Bassam Shakir in the second minute, which resulted in an interception by English skipper Joel Latibeaudiere.
Watch England 4-0 Irag Highlights
England came close to scoring on the 6th minute when Crystal Palace youngster presented him an opportunity through a corner. However, the header went wide over the bars, keeping the sheets unchanged for the moment.
England soon took the lead on the 11th minute, when English captain Angel Gomes scored a tap in after receiving a ground cross from compatriot Nya Kirby on the right. After scoring an early goal, the three lions soon interchanged into 4-4-2 diamond wide with Emile Smith Rowe exchanging positions with Nya Kirby on the right wing.
England missed a golden chance in the 21st minute, when right winger Emile Smith Rowe’s shot missed the nets by a couple of inches, not being able to increase the margin. However, another opportunity arose after just two minutes, when Rowe was pushed by Iraqi defender Mohammed Albaqer, only to let England be awarded a penalty by the match referee. The penalty, taken by Jadon Sancho, was saved by the Iraqi goalkeeper Ali Ibadi who went on to save two more scintillating saves in the next three minutes.
The Asians launched a counter-attack on the 32nd minute. Bassam Shakir, the Iraqi left midfielder put in a through ball for Ali Kareem, whose shot was saved by English custodian William Crellin. This marked the Asians’ first shot on the opponents’ goal in the game.
Another opportunity presented itself to the Iraqis 36th minute when a pass by Bassam Shakir found the feet of Mohammed Ali inside the English box. However, the threat was dealt by the English goalkeeper Crellin who saved the shot by Ali and sent it back in the game.
England tried to find their feet in the dying moments of the first half. The Three Lions launched an aerial attack from the left wing which resulted in a free kick, less than 20 yards out from the Iraqi bars. The free kick, however, taken by Angel Gomes, went wide past the bars failing to find its way inside the goal.
Three minutes of extra time were added to the first half by the assistant referee, however, none of the teams managed to change the scoresheet in the given time.
Being a goal down in the first half, Iraqi star striker Mohammed Dawood made his way inside the pitch in the second half. The Al Naft SC striker picked up a deflected shot by Steven Sessegnon and shot it towards the goal. However, the shot went wide over the bars and the scores remained unchanged.
England doubled their lead in the 57th minute when Emile Smith Rowe picked up a pass in the Iraqi box from skipper Angel Gomes and shot the ball past Ali Ibadi. Soon after the second, England quickly increased their margin in 3-0 in the 59th minute, when English right-back Ryan Sessegnon found Daniel Loader in the final third and the forward put the ball past the Ibadi, who was yet to score his second goal of the match. The Reading FC young forward scored his second goal of the game on the 71st minute, being assisted by compatriot Sessegnon once again.
Soon after conceding two back to back goals in the hour mark, Iraq interchanged their formation into 4-5-1, making their prized possession Mohammed Dawood the lone striker upfront. Despite taking a more defensive approach, the Asians failed to change the flow of the match at the end.
In the other game, Mexico and Chile played out a goalless draw in their final Group F match at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 on Saturday night. With the result, Mexico advanced to a Round of 16 clash versus Iran in Goa on Tuesday, while Chile exit the competition with just one point from their three group matches.
The first half was dominated by the Mexicans, who had the lion’s share of the scoring opportunities in Guwahati. Yet, despite the best efforts of Roberto de la Rosa and Jairo Torres, the CONCACAF champions were unable to break through before the interval.
Watch Mexico 0-0 Chile Highlights
The second half unfolded much like the opening 45 minutes at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, as both sides showed plenty of endeavour to break the deadlock but lacked success, with the final whistle cutting their quest for goals short.
England topped the group with a full nine points from three games. Iraq followed while Mexico also made it into the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams.