Paraguay and USA were the big winners at the World Cup in India on Monday as they practically booked their place in the last 16, while the hosts were left facing elimination following a consecutive defeat.
GHANA 0-1 USA
USA became the first team to enter the round of 16 riding on substitute Ayo Akinola’s 75th-minute strike for a 1-0 victory over Ghana at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in New Delhi on Monday.
In what was an intriguing contest, the Stars and Stripes made the Black Starlets pay for their missed chances. The first half was evenly played, with USA edging the number of chances created before the break. Blaine Ferri, in particular, went closest to scoring for the Americans.
The second half saw a more determined Ghana come out and press the initiative, as they created a handful of quality chances just after the break through Sadiq Ibrahim and Emmanuel Toku, in particular. They would come to regret not taking their chances, as Akinola scored the winner on 75 minutes to propel the Stars and Stripes to the top of the group after two straight victories.
TURKEY 0-3 MALI
African champions Mali bounced back after their narrow opening-day defeat to thrash Turkey 3-0 in Group B of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup at the DY Patil Stadium on Monday.
The Malians could have scored another handful of goals if not for the heroics of Turkish goalkeeper Berke Ozer, who was under siege by the electric Malian attack almost from the opening whistle. Lassana N’Diaye could have struck twice in the opening quarter of an hour, but the African side had to wait until the 38th minute to open the scoring when Djemoussa Traore finished well with just the goalkeeper to beat.
The Turkish gained some momentum after the interval, but all hopes were ended when N’Diaye finally slotted home a rebound in the 68th minute. The Eaglets put the match out of reach with a ferocious shot by Fode Konate from the edge of the area in the dying minutes.
INDIA 1-2 COLOMBIA
India’s ecstasy turned in despair as Juan Penaloza scored the winner 60 seconds after Jeakson Thounaojam made history by scoring the hosts’ first-ever goal in a FIFA competition.
A pulsating first half in New Delhi saw India come within inches of breaking the deadlock. However, Abhijit Sarkar’s close-range shot was well saved by Colombia goalkeeper Kevin Mier before Rahul Kannoly struck the post for the tournament hosts in stoppage time. In between those Indian opportunities, their goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem continued his impressive form with a series of fine saves to keep the Colombians at bay.
That encouraging first half had the Indian fans anticipating even better things after the break. But on 49 minutes, Penaloza had other ideas. Collecting a cross from the left, the Colombian edged along the top of the box before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed shot past Dheeraj for a 1-0 lead.
The advantage lasted until the late stages, when India’s endeavours to score finally paid off from a corner on 82 minutes. An unmarked Jeakson rose highest to head home an historic first FIFA tournament goal for his country.
It brought delirium to the fans in the stadium, but before they could fully savour that special moment, Penaloza struck again a minute later to put Colombia back in front for good, as he slid home to send the hosts on the brink of elimination.
Anibal Vega scored a brace late in the game as Paraguay snatched a 4-2 win over New Zealand in Group B of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Monday.
It was lined up to be a more simple evening for the Paraguayans after they went ahead in the second minute through Alan Rodriguez’s speculative long free-kick, but Alexis Duarte’s night went bad in the 20th minute and got worse from there, as the Kiwis pressed into the attacking third.
Stunned to be behind, the south Americans spurred to life as the second half wore on. Vega’s decisive goals were both created with aplomb by Leonardo Sanchez, and Blas Armoa finished the entertaining contest with another tally from a speculative long ball a minute into stoppage time.
This article is written by Shantanu Ambekar, you can follow him on Twitter at @ShantanuAmbekar. What are your thoughts? Let us know by dropping a comment via our comments box below. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and like us on Facebook.