Barcelona starlet Abel Ruiz’s last minute penalty sealed the day for the Spaniards.
In what could be described as a hard-fought battle, Spain defeated France 2-1 in the round of 16 match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, played in Guwahati on 17th October. Juan Miranda and Abel Ruiz scored for the winners while Lenny Pintor scored the only goal for the Blues.
The Les Bleus displayed a fine pressing football in the earlier minutes into the game. The French youngsters kept putting on pressure on their Spanish counterparts, forcing them to go wide on several occasions as the game developed.
Watch France 1-2 Spain highlights here
Abel Ruiz, the Spanish skipper tried to provide an early goal to his side several times in the first half. However, the striker was intercepted by the French defenders multiple times, who dealt with the threat accordingly.
Moments of opportunity were presented in front of both the teams in the first half, however, lack of conversion capability made both the teams suffer in front of the goal.
In the 10th minute, French midfielder Lenny Pintor caught up with the ball inside the Spanish box, creating the best opportunity for an early goal for his side. However, he was not able to take the shot as he was brought down by Hugo Guillamon almost instantaneously. Minutes later in the 18th minute, Ferran Torres missed a header which could have provided his team with an upper hand against France.
France finally capitalized in the 34th minute when Amine Gouiri picked up a missed pass by the Spanish and put up a scintillating through ball for Lenny Pintor upfront. The Stade Brestois midfielder picked up the pass, dribbled through two Spanish defenders before finally putting the ball past Alvaro Fernandez, the Spanish goalkeeper.
Responding to the disadvantage, Spain quickly interchanged their formation in a more attacking 3-5-2 in the following moments. In the 44th minute, Juan Miranda came to Spain’s rescue as the defender headed the ball, defeating Yahia Fofana to equalize in the process.
Spain came back a completely different side in the second half. The European Champions showed a rather conservative gameplay against the French as the game progressed.
Spain wasted another chance in the 55th minute as midfielder Sergio Gomez’s shot was saved by French goalkeeper Fofana. The La Roja continued playing a high line against the Blues, pushing the French at their heels in the process.
The decisive moment in the match came in the 88th minute when Spain was awarded a penalty kick after French full-back Oumar Solet wrongfully took Jose Lara down in the box. Barcelona and Spain skipper Abel Ruiz took the shot, scoring the winner for the Spanish in the process.
Spain now advance to the quarterfinal and will face Iran on 22nd October in Kochi.
Over in Goa, Iran made it four wins from four matches at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 and qualified for the quarter-finals after fighting to make two early goals stand up against a game Mexican side.
In just the seventh minute, Mohammad Sharifi converted a very confident penalty after Mohammad Ghaderi’s hard work to take the ball from Adrian Vasquez, who responded with a clumsy challenge in the Mexican box.
Just four minutes later, the Mexican defence looked out of sorts again, and they allowed Allahyar Sayyad far too much space in the box. The impressive forward gathered a long ball, turned and chipped his shot over the frustrated Mexican goalkeeper Cesar Lopez.
Watch Iran 2-1 Mexico highlights here
Iran, whose famous 4-0 win over Germany allowed them to blitz through their group, looked set to run away with the contest, but Mexico settled well after 30 minutes and began to have the better of the chances.
They tested Iran goalkeeper Ali Gholam Zadeh several times first and then found their breakthrough in the 37th minute when Roberto de la Rosa thumped in a volley from near the edge of the area on the rebound.
The CONCACAF champions continued to look the more dangerous team throughout the second half, with Diego Lainez going close and Jairo Torres rattling the post near the hour mark.
However, Iran recovered and exerted their prowess, holding the ball well in the Mexican half to close out the match and reach their first-ever quarter-final in this event. It was a difficult contest, but they maintained their momentum, heading into their last-eight clash against European champions Spain.