The South Americans finished top of Group B with a perfect record
A dominant performance by Paraguay saw an interesting final group stage game at the Dr. DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. The score stood at 3-0 at fulltime with goals coming in from Giovanni Boagada and Fernando Cardozo in the first half and Antonio Galeano adding to the tally in the second. The Turkish were masterfully outclassed in the game and Paraguay march in to the final 16 with their heads held high.
The last and final game of the group stages kicked off at the D Y Patil Stadium and the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium simultaneously. Turkey and Paraguay kicked off at Navi Mumbai while New Zealand and Mali kicked off in New Delhi. Paraguay started the game in usual fashion pressing high and controlling the momentum of the game as Turkey looked outclassed in the opening exchanges.
In the very first minute of the game Turkish defender Abdussamed Karnucu tripped Blas Armoa in the penalty area, prompting referee Ryuji Sato of Japan to point towards the penalty spot. Anibal Vega fired in a powerful shot but the Turkish shot stopper, Berke Ozer guessed it right and parried away the ball to make a wonderful save.
Turkish team buoyed by the ‘keepers efforts launched themselves forward and started to increase their influence on the game. Their aerial abilities were put to good use as Malik Karaahmet stood tall and in the 10th minute headed a powerful shot towards goal only to be saved by Diego Huesca. They continued the barrage on the opposition quite unrelentingly especially from the left hand side.
Paraguay by the 20th minute had woken up and started regaining control of the match. Launching attacks and trying to bypass a stubborn Turkish defense. Turkey didn’t seemed to be phased by it and continued their counter attacking game, which was on the decline as Paraguay slowly and steadily worked their way in to dominating the match.
In the 26th Minute Atalay Babacan tried to swing on into the far post but shot wide. The Paraguayans launched several attacks after this and won a free-kick in the 28th minute of the game which was lifted over the cross bar by Blas Armoa. The referee then called for a water break to help the players cool off as the temperatures in Navi Mumbai soared.
The game continued to change ends as though it were a basket-ball game and neither of the team showed any credible threat in the final third. In the 37th minute something shook open the game as Giovanni Bogado tried a long range effort just above the crossbar. The ensuing goalkick in the 38th minute led to an Atalay Babcan effort being denied by Huesca in the Paraguayan goal.
In the 40th minute, on the counter-attack Paraguay earned a free-kick at the edge of the penalty box. Giovanni Bogado made no mistake in curling the ball into the underside of the crossbar, beating the goalkeeper and giving Paraguay the much needed lead. This triggered Paraguay to be more dominant on the ball and they pressed hard.
Watch Turkey 0-3 Paraguay Highlights
In the 43rd minute of the game Blas Armoa made an incisive run on the left wing and placed the ball on to the on-rushing Fernando Cardozo who flicked in to the far post with the inside of his left foot. This was truly the most interesting piece of goal observed in the current World Cup so far.
As the referee blew the whistle for the first half the game stood at 2-0 in favour of the Central Americans who came out as the team on top against the struggling Europeans who have not found their feet on Indian soil. Turkey’s coach would surely be giving an earful to his players in the dressing room.
The second half kicked off as both teams were vying for dominance and ended up with an end to end game play without any strong finishing from either side. The crowd seemed to favour the Central Americans who have dominated both the previous games played here and that seemed to spur them on.
Antalay Babacan in the 55th minute stopped a Paraguayan in his tracks preventing a promising play and earned himself a yellow. Following this, the Turkish coach called in for some reinforcement in the form of Ahmed Kutucu, the first match talisman to push the young Turks ahead.
In the 61st minute, amid confusion caused by a Paraguayan move, Anotonio Galeano unleashed a powerful shot which was deflected in to goal by a Turkish defender leaving Ozer helpless in goal. The Paraguayans continued this onslaught in a more counter-attacking format as Turkey couldn’t find any holes in the Central American defense.
In the 66th minute substitute Fernando Romero of Paraguay made a commanding run but his shot didn’t justify his opportunity and Ozer collected the ball comfortably. Turkish Captain, Recep Gul did try to make the most of his team’s chances and send his forward but they seemed to bungle every opportunity that came their way.
The game then grew cagey as Paraguay seemed comfortable in holding down to their 3 goal lead and Turkey finding it implausible to create anything in the final third. Romero of Paraguay did at times try to break the slow game and attack but seemed to be the only man pushing for any goals.
Following the water break, the game seemed to go down to almost a lull as hardly any attacks were created. Turkish frustration showed as they chose to bring down players rather than giving away goals and conceded plenty of free-kicks in dangerous areas. In the 84th minute from one such free-kick, substitute Julio Baz of Paraguay struck the ball hard and on target just for the push of Berke Ozer to deny him the golden opportunity.
Ahmed Kutucu did try his heart out at every opportunity to get a taste of goal but was unable to do so as the Paraguayans stood tall in defense. But as the clock grew closer to the 90th minute Kerem Kesgin pulled one back for the Turks as a consolation to their turbulent time in India which leaves them at the bottom of the table.
The final minutes soon passed by as the dominant unrelenting Paraguayans finished atop the table having won all the three games with a dominant margin against tight opponents. The final score of 3-1 justified their performance and as the referee blew the final whistle there was jubilation in the hearts of the boys knowing they finished atop an unpredictable group.
Watch Mali 3-1 New Zealand Highlights
In the other game of Group B, Mali continued their dominance beating New Zealand 3-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in front of a large crowd. Salam Jiddou in the 18th minute scored a scorcher to hand Mali a well-deserved lead after long periods of dominance. Djemoussa Traore added to his and his country’s tally in the second half at the 50th minute doubling the lead. In the 72nd minute New Zealand were able to pull one back through Charles Spragg’s goal, keeping the Oceania side in the game. But in the 82nd minute Lassana Ndiaye put all hopes to rest for the minnows as Malians closed the doors for a New Zealand return.
The game was well poised and played at terrific pace as both Mali and New Zealand looked out for a win and a place in the last 16. The winner would finish 2nd in the group while the loser would have to wait and hope to get picked as one of the better 3rd placed teams. Mali dominated the game throughout and didn’t hold anything back, pumping in 3 goals and stamping their dominance on the All Whites.
Group A finished its proceedings with Paraguay leading the roost with 3 wins out of 3 and Mali following them with 2. New Zealand finished 3rd and wait till the last of the group stages games are played on the 14th to know their fate. In spite of having a lot of brilliant talent, the most disappointing were Turkey as they leave India red faced having won only a point and finishing bottom of the group.