Lincoln and Brenner help Brazil ease past Niger, finish top of group
Written by: Praveen R. Paramasivam
Spain also beat North Korea to make it to the knoutout stages.
In-form striker Lincoln scored an early goal to hand Brazil an early advantage, and Brenner, who has replaced Vinicius Junior in the starting line-up, netted his first goal of the tournament to put Brazil at ease heading into the knock-out stages of the premier national youth tournament. Despite Brazil’s dominance, Habibou Sofiane and co. did test Gabriel Brazao although Salim Abdourahmane’s goal against North Korea remained their only goal in the World Cup at full-time whistle.
Watch Niger 0-2 Brazil highlights here
With Group D’s top spot at stake, Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu fielded a full-strength line-up despite the prospect of travelling hundreds of miles for their round-of-16 tie and playing third-placed Group E team on October 18. Alanzinho, Brazil’s chief source of creativity, though, was dropped with Vitinho receiving his debut, as the former was just a booking away from missing Brazil’s next game. Ismaila Tiemoko, however, with participation in the first knockout stage a certainty, handed defender Nasser Mahaman and forward Kairou Amoustapha their first World Cup start. The Niger coach, unlike his Brazil counterpart, riskily named four players-on-yellow despite potentially playing France come Tuesday, and Djibrilla Ibrahim ended up being booked, thereby missing Niger’s crucial round-of-16 clash.
Brazil started the game on a high note, as they opened the scoring in less than five minutes. Lincoln became the second joint-top-scorer as he found the bottom corner from the center of the 18-yard box after Paulinho had whipped in a cross. Lincoln almost doubled the lead two minutes later as he hit the woodwork while trying to guide Weverson’s cross into the net. Despite Brazil’s creating numerous high-quality chances through Vitinho and diminutive magician Marcos Antonio and the Niger lads’ trying their luck from distance quite often, the second goal of the game came only 31 minutes and all three Brazilian strikers’ going down later. Vitinho earned a free-kick after being fouled by 6ft 3in defender Ibrahim, and Brenner converted it, as he found the far corner from 35 yards out thanks to a substantial deflection.
Niger’s Amoustapha squandered a glorious chance to half the lead a few minutes later, as he missed a kick inside the six-yard box with only the Brazil goalkeeper to beat. The Africans surely had their moments in flashes especially through midfielder Sofiane, but Brazil dominated possession throughout the first half that ended with the South Americans enjoying a two-goal lead. The first half wasn’t a bed of roses, however, as Brazil had their lively midfielder Vitinho, who was involved in a nasty collision half an hour into the game, stretchered off.
Brazil hardly looked as impressive as they did in the first 45 minutes in Vitinho’s absence. They continued dominating possession, however, and Niger’s bringing on forwards Ibrahim Boubacar and Salim Abdourahmane didn’t seem to create the impact the coach would have hoped for. A lacklustre second-half performance from either side, thus, ended goallessly.
In the other game, Spain ensured bottom side North Korea returned home having scored no goal as they defeated them 2-0, with Real Madrid youngsters Mohamed Moukhliss and Cesar Gelabert finding the net for Santiago Denia’s side. Despite the win, Spain only finished runners-up having lost the Group D opener to winners Brazil in Kochi on October 7.
Watch Spain 2-0 Korea DPR highlights here
Brazil return to Kochi after their short sojourn in Goa for their round-of-16 clash with France, Japan, or Honduras, with Honduras likely opponents. Spain will potentially lock horns with France, who are touted to finish atop Group E. Niger, on the other hand, will face Ghana, the side they lost in the African U-17 Cup of Nations semi-finals on penalties in May 2017.
Published: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:27 PM IST