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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Brazil’s fluency subdues European champions Spain

Brazil rallied after conceding a fifth minute own goal to run out winners in the opening Group D clash in Kochi in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 07, 2017 20:13 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, Kochi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Brazil U-17 football team
Lincoln (L) of Brazil runs along with his teammate to celebrate a goal against Spain during their Group D stage football match in the FIFA U-17 World Cup played at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi on October 7, 2017. Brazil won 2-1 to go atop of Group D. (AFP)

Brazil overcame an initial defensive lapse as they rallied to take charge and subdue Spain 2-1 in a thrilling Group D encounter in the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday.

Goals from Lincoln and Paulinho saw Brazil regain control after an own goal by Wesley had given Spain the early advantage in one of the most high profile matches in the group stages.

With a majority of the crowd in Kochi sporting replicas of Brazil’s famous yellow jersey, the Selecao were inspired to come back and seal the victory.

Spain started the game well. Playing with a high defensive line early on, the European champions gave the Brazil’s backline a few jitters in the initial stages.

Early setback

In the fourth minute, Spain’s Abel Ruiz almost caught the Brazilian defence napping after being put through on goal by Ferran Torres. His shot, however, was kept out by goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao.

It didn’t take long for Spain to take the lead though. With Torres causing trouble in Brazil’s left flank with his pace, the right winger managed to put in a low cross towards the goal.

Under pressure from Mohamed Moukhliss, who was waiting in the middle, Brazil’s Wesley inadvertently put the ball inside his own net.

Brazil’s counter

Trailing by a goal after just five minutes, Brazil responded by keeping a very high defensive line. At times, the last two men in their backline, Vitao and Lucas Halter, were metres inside the Spain half.

Brazil were all over Spain for the next few minutes. Paulinho’s shot in the 19th minute was saved by Spanish custodian Alvaro Fernandez.

A minute later, Brenner’s long range shot was inches wide of the goal. Midfielder Alan Souza then forced a save off Alvaro in the 23rd minute.

Brazil’s persistence paid off in the 26th minute as Lincoln finished off a rebound that fell at his feet due to a defensive lapse after Alvaro parried Alan’s cutback from the left.

Spain’s problems were compounded by an injury to defender Jaume Mateu in the 35th minute. He was replaced by Victor Perea.

Paulinho’s winner

Brazil continued to pile on the pressure and just seconds before half-time, Paulinho found himself through on goal with a clever turn helping him evade a Spain defender.

He made no mistake in the one-on-one situation, finishing past Alvaro for the lead.

Spain started strongly in the second half and constant pressure saw them earn a spate of corners. Off one of them, Sergio Gomez forced Brazil goalkeeper Brazao into an acrobatic save with a left-footed half-volley.

At the hour mark, Spain coach Santiago Denia brought on forward Jose Lara for midfielder Alvaro Garcia.

Denia’s Brazilian counterpart Carlos Amadeu threw in midfielder Rodrigo Guth for Victor Bobsin and defender Matheus Stockl for Lucas Halter.

In the 72nd minute, Brazil had an attempt disallowed for a foul after Alvaro had managed to save from a corner.

As Spain continued to pile on the pressure, an organised Brazil narrowed their formation, forcing the Spaniards into the wings. In the 85th minute, Marcos Antonio broke away on the right flank.

His pass to Paulinho, however, was intercepted by Alvaro. Spain earned a couple of free kicks in the dying minutes, but there was to be no late drama as Brazil held on for three points.

‘Equal game’

Spain coach Denia and his Brazilian counterpart Amadeu both agreed that it was an equally contested affair in their post-match interactions with the media.

“We played well in the first ten minutes, but Brazil started to attack after conceding the goal. We played better in the second half, but this game showed that there are many areas we can improve on,” Denia told reporters here.

Amdeu too conceded that Spain were in the better team in the second half of the match.

“Our players were nervous in the beginning, but we were more calm after conceding the goal. Spain played better in the second half. Our goalkeeper was really good. It was an equal game,” he said.

First Published: Oct 07, 2017 19:57 IST