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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Spain outclass Iran 3-1, to face Mali in semifinals

European champions Spain outplayed Iran, the last Asian team in the fray, in Kochi to enter the last four of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 22, 2017 20:39 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, Kochi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Spain vs Iran
Spain players celebrate after beating Iran in the FIFA U-17 World Cup quarterfinal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday.(AFP)

Spain found the key to unlock a stubborn Iran defence as the U-17 European champions produced an attacking master class to win 3-1 in the FIFA U-17 World Cup quarterfinal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday. (Spain vs Iran highlights)

Spain will face Mali in the semifinal in Mumbai on Wednesday.

The Santiago Denia-coached Spain called the shots from kick-off though Iran did well to stifle their raids early on. However, Spain’s persistence paid off as the Iranian defence failed to prevent Abel Ruiz from bursting into the box too shoot off a lay-off from the left. The first shot was blocked, but the Barcelona B forward didn’t miss from the rebound.

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Spain continued to dominate, but Iran held them at bay with a narrow defensive formation and heavy pressing in the middle.

In the 34th minute, Spain forward Cesar Gelabert had a golden chance after Iran goalkeeper Ali Gholam Zadeh parried a ball into his path, but he recovered well to tip over the shot.

It took a special finish from Sergio Gomez at the hour mark for Spain to find a second goal. Gomez received the ball from Ferran Torres just outside the box and beat Zadeh at his near post with a thunderous left-footer. A couple of minutes later, Gomez received a knock and was stretchered off.

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In the 67th minute, Spain scored their third goal off a counter-attack. Abel Ruiz broke away down the middle and passed forward to Mohamed Moukhliss on the right, whose low, accurate cross into the box was converted by Ferran Torres from close range.

SUBSTITUTES RALLY IRAN

Iranians substitutes Saeid Karimi and Mohammad Sardari injected some much needed pace end energy into their game, and two minutes after conceding the third goal, struck through Karimi’s close range effort.

Iran came close again in the 82nd minute but Sardari’s shot was kept away by Spain goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez.

Abel Ruiz had missed two gilt-edged opportunities and Spain had one more chance towards the end when Alvaro Garcia crossed from right to Torres. But his clever flick was kept away by the keeper.

Spain coach Santiago Denia said he tried attacks through the flanks to counter Iran’s physical strength and counter-attacks.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Mali upstage Ghana twice in six months, enter semis

“We knew it was very important to start the game well. We knew trying to play through the inside of their defence was going to be difficult. We should have scored our second goal in the first half, but knew they had to move forward in the second half.”

Iran coach Abbas Chamanian said: “Today we didn’t start well. We were not good in attack in the first 20 minutes and we conceded the goal during this time. We must not forget Spain are a high quality team. Our players gave their best until the end of the game.”

First Published: Oct 22, 2017 20:36 IST