Spaniards eye smooth route to knockouts
European champions Spain will enter their final group match against Korea DPR as firm favourites to secure a Round of 16 berth in the FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Friday.
Spain are placed second in Group D behind leaders Brazil, to whom they lost 1-2 in their tournament opener. They bounced back from in style and notched up a 4-0 victory over Niger in their second game. They will now be raring to go against the bottom-placed North Koreans, who have lost both their matches to Niger and Brazil.
The Koreans are unlikely to test the tactically superior Spanish side.
Expectedly, Paraguay brushed aside Turkey 3-1 at the DY Patil Stadium here on Thursday to top Group B with three wins in as many matches.
Though the South Americans thoroughly dominated Turkey, Paraguay did concede one goal on Thursday, their fifth of the tournament, making their coach Gustavo Morinigo raise concerns about this department.
But adding to Paraguay’s strength was some fine saves by their goalkeeper Diego Huesca, whose anticipation and glovework showed his mettle. The 17-year-old Huesca is the only Paraguayan to play in the European circuit, having been recruited by Valencia CF in Spain.
Twin strikes within two minutes in the first half were enough to show Paraguay’s dominance. But, they did not rest on their 2-0 half-time cushion and went on the attack in the second half in order to score one more.
Playing his first match of the tournament, Giovanni Bogado impressed in the first half to score Paraguay’s maiden goal. Bogado scored off a free kick in the 41st minute, the ball dipping into the net from top right.
This opened another scoring opportunity two minutes later when Fernando Cardozo flicked in a pass from Blas Armoa from the left, catching the Turkish goalkeeper Berke Ozer off-guard.
After change of ends, Paraguay trebled their lead when Antonio Galeano’s left-footer from outside the box found the right corner of the net for his second goal in two games.
Turkey reduced the margin in the injury time when Keren Kesgin took in the ball all by himself past a couple of Paraguay defenders and made room to unleash a right-footer from the top of the box past a diving Huesca.
It was only the Europeans’ second goal of the tournament. Turkey finished last in this group with a goal difference of minus-5, behind New Zealand (minus-4).
Earlier, Paraguay, who had made the second stage before this game with wins against Mali and New Zealand, had a golden chance to march ahead in the first minute when their forward Armoa was brought down by Abdussamed Karnucu inside the box.