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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Second-half blitz from England sets up Japan clash

England thrash Iraq 4-0 to finish top of Group F of FIFA U-17 World Cup and ensure they remain in Kolkata to play their Round of 16 clash against Japan.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 14, 2017 23:05 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
England scored 11 goals in their three matches in Group F of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
England scored 11 goals in their three matches in Group F of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.(Samir Jana /HT Photo)

England set up a pre-quarter final against Japan here on Tuesday here after taking the fight out of Iraq with two goals in two second-half minutes. The 0-4 loss means Iraq will travel to Goa for their round of 16 match against Mali and they will miss Mohammed Dawood who was suspended after a foul on Marc Guehi here on Saturday.

Angel Gomes put England ahead 11 minutes after starting his first World Cup game following neat build-up from the midfield which released Nya Kirby on the right. Gomes set up England’s second following a give-go with Emilie Smith Rowe who made a superb run to place it past Iraq goalie Ali Ibadi in the 57th minute. Another swift transition from midfield to attack made it 3-0 in the 59th through Daniel Loader who made it 4-0 in the 71st from Steven Sessegnon’s assist.

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“We have good players, I hope the chairmen and managers in England are noticing. We are pleased to have qualified from a tough group and players should get a lot of credit for the manner of qualification. We have 21 players who are more than comfortable at this level,” said England coach Steve Cooper.

Timothy Eyoma’s suspension had forced coach Cooper’s hand but he chose to not start seven regulars, including Philip Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi. But among those not rested was Jadon Sancho whose 25th minute penalty was a weak effort that Iraq goalie Ali Ibadi easily saved. “There is no update on whether he is staying,” said Cooper.

That would have made it 2-0 and maybe then Iraq would have left the talismanic Dawood on the bench.

Instead, with Ibadi leading the riposte from the back Iraq forced two chances, the second had Ali Kareem making a fine run behind the line to meet Bassam Shakir’s pass but shot at goalie William Crellin.

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In the first half, Ibadi was the bravest Lion from Mesopotamia, flying forward to prevent a free-kick from causing danger and denying Smith Rowe after he had broken through. His interception of a Kirby delivery ensured that Iraq were trailing by the narrowest possible margin when Dawood came off the bench in the 47th minute.

On cue, Iraq played a long ball from the middle and after the first attempt ricocheted off Crellin, Dawood volleyed over. “We had told him (Dawood) to be careful but this is football,” said Iraq coach Qahtan Chitheer about missing his key player.

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Perhaps Ibadi’s heroics had got Iraq coach Qahtan Chitheer to believe that with Dawood on, he could even extend the stay in Kolkata as group F leaders. Such thoughts were ambused by a two-minute blitz from England. From a difficult group they have qualified easily by scoring 11 goals and that tells its own story.