FIFA U-17 World Cup: Dominant Spain beat North Korea 2-0 to reach Round of 16
A goal in either half was enough for Spain to ease past North Korea who finished the FIFA U-17 World Cup goalless and without a point.fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 13, 2017 23:07 IST
Spain booked their place in the Round of 16 of the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a 2-0 win over North Korea at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here today.
Needing a win to secure second place in Group D, Spain put in a dominant show, and despite a number of misses, managed to get the necessary goals against a Korean side that eventually finished the game with ten men.
The Spaniards took the lead in the fourth minute when playmaker Mohamed Moukhliss found himself in space near the goal after a clever pass by striker Cesar Gelabert. Moukhliss promptly finish off the chance to peg back the Asian opponents.
It was always going to be a mountain to climb for North Korea, and they struggled against a side that enjoyed a lion’s share of possession throughout the game.
In the 11th minute, Barcelona starlet Abel Ruiz had a shot blocked inside a box, while seven minutes later, a powerful shot by Moukhliss from the edge of the box went just over the bar.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Sergio Gomez came close for Spain when he reached the end of a cross from the left flank. His shot, however, was well over.
Ferran Torres and Abel Ruiz both missed chances to score in the next 15 minutes, while Gelabert had a shot saved in the 40th minute.
Torres came close in the stoppage time of the first half again when he tried to curl a shot with his left foot from the right side of the box. His shot hit the post as North Korea had a reprieve.
Striker Gelabert was at the thick of things in the second half too, and a shot from him in the 56th minute went just over.
Abel had the chance to hand his side a two-goal cushion in the 68th minute when Gomez sent in a cross from the left flank. His header, however, went over despite there being no pressure on him from the Korean backline.
Three minutes later, Spain finally had their second goal. Jose Lara sent in the ball from the right flank, with Gelabert waiting in the middle.
Taking a deflection on its way, it finally landed at Gelabert’s feet, who shot it home inside the net.
In the 84th minute, North Korea had substitute Paek Kwang Min sent off after he seemed to impede Moukhliss in the middle of the park. It was a decision that didn’t go down well with North Korea coach Kim Yong-su.
“His foul was not so severe to be punished with a red card. It was not a fair decision,” he told reporters at the post-match press conference.
Spain were comfortable to keep the ball for most of the match, and saw out the game with the 2-0 lead despite having a one-man advantage in the dying minutes.
‘Focus was on defence’
Yong-su defended the lack of goal-scoring opportunities created by his team in their three matches here, saying the focus was always on their defence.
“The teams in our group, especially Brazil and Spain, are very strong, so we were more focused on defence. This is why we did not create many goal-scoring chances,” he said.
“Today’s performance was not as good as against Brazil. Our players were a bit nervous because this was our last chance (to progress to the Round of 16). Players were under mental pressure, and our defence made a few mistakes,” he added.
Spain coach Santiago Denia stressed on the need to continue improving as a team. “I wouldn’t call this a perfect win. We need to improve to achieve our goals. We still have room for improvements,” he said.
With a potential Round of 16 clash against France next week, Denia said he wanted to wait till Saturday’s Group E matches before discussing about the game.
“We know that there is a chance of playing France (in the Round of 16), but we don’t want to talk about it yet because we have to respect the teams playing France in their group. But we do believe that France have improved since the European Championships,” he added.
Spain had beaten France 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the U-17 European Championships earlier this year.