Brazil come from behind to beat Spain while Niger edge North Korea in Group D
Written by: Praveen R. Paramasivam
The clash of the heavyweights saw Brazil win the game 2-1, coming from behind.
Brazil got off to a fine start to their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign, as they defeated Spain 2-1 in a high-profile Group D clash at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kerala.
Carlos Amadeu kept his word as he brought in Brenner to replace Vinicius Junior in the starting line-up, with Vinicius’ former strike-partner Lincoln spearheading the line-up. As for Spain, Manchester City’s Eric Garcia sat out, as Santiago Denia fielded an all-attack line-up featuring four forwards and three midfielders.
Spain looked as if they meant business in the first few minutes of the game, as they scored just five minutes into the first half, with Mohamed Moukhliss' shot beating 'keeper Gabriel Brazao after Wesley's intervention. The Real Madrid teenager received a superb cross from right-winger Ferran Torres – as Brazil centre-backs Vitao and Lucas Halter essentially ball-watched – to set up the goal from close range.
Brazil 2-1 Spain highlights
The goal, however, was the last time Spain truly looked lively, as Brazil began building momentum until they equalized on 25 minutes. Lincoln, Brazil’s second top-scorer at South American Championship, capitalized on Spain poor defending, as he buried Brenner’s low cross into Alvaro Fernandez’s net. Spain, however, didn’t seem keen to restore their lead, as the continued being ineffective.
Brazil on your left, Spain on your right: The Statistics of the game
With fatigue coming into play, the gameplay seemed slowed down, but Brazil did have a few players who hardly looked gassed. One of those in Marcos Antonio, the shortest on the pitch, set up Paulinho, who scored a stunning goal from point-blank range past the hapless Spain ‘keeper, one minute into first half’s extra time. A team that’s supposed to be good at keeping possession in Spain only had 36 percent possession in the first half as Brazil thoroughly dominated.
Whatever the Spain coach spoke during the half-time break definitely seemed to have resonated with the players, as Spain came out during the second half a completely different animal. Adopting quite a high line, they seemed desperate to negate Brazil’s solidarity ensured they didn’t get the job done despite every Spanish forward had their moments in the Brazil penalty area.
With Brazil rendering the Spain attackers futile, the Spain coach brought on 6ft 4in targetman striker Pedro Ruiz to capitalize on Brazil’s tired legs, and he did his job to perfection drawing the defenders onto him to leave the other attackers with a plenty of space. He, too, couldn’t help his side break the deadlock, as Brazil managed to hold on to their lead in what was a lopsided second half.
Brazil’s victory over Spain all but confirms their topping the group – and drawing an easy opposition in the knock-out stages – with only games against North Korea and Niger left. Spain, on the other hand, still boast a good chance of making round-of-16, but they cannot afford to produce a lacklustre display as they did in the first half of the game in any of the other two group games left, lest they endure a surprise early exit.
North Korea 0-1 Niger highlights
In the other game, North Korea lost 1-0 despite looking the better-organized team, thanks to their inability to produce the final ball. Niger, on the other hand, despite hardly managing to string passes together and only resorting to clearances and long balls to keep themselves in the game, created numerous high-quality chances in either half.
The first half ended goalless, and it required Niger’s building up momentum in the second half to score the only goal scored in the game. Salim Abdourahmane coolly finished from eight yards out after Habibou Sofiane had capitalized on woeful defending from North Korea to send in a low cross from the right flank.
Spain take on Niger in a must-win game on October 10 and, although Spain may be under paramount pressure in light of their loss and Niger are coming off a morale-boosting win, the Europeans are easy favourites heading into Group D’s matchday two. Brazil, on the other hand, can all but confirm their round-of-16 qualification with a win against North Korea on the same day but, with the Asian side’s coach Kim Yong Su promising to keep things tight at the back, the young South Americans may need to up their performance level from the first game.
Published: Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:29 PM IST