LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS in SHARJAH: Venezuela made two major mistakes, which 10-men Tunisia turned into decisive goals to win 2-1 in Sharjah in the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
Tunisia scored the first goal after a major mistake from Venezuela goalkeeper Beycker Velasquez, who ran beyond the penalty area to reach the ball, but Tunisian midfielder Chiheb Jbeli was faster. Jbeli went past Velasquez and a defender before shooting into the empty net.
Before that Venezuela had wasted their best chance in the entertaining group D opener.
Jose Marquez ran impressively through the Tunisian defense but, when he appeared near to scoring, goalkeeper Sabri Ben Hessen dived to make a fine save.
Minutes later David Zalman hit the post with a ferocious shot.
A high number of Venezuelan supporters were drumming, shaking tambourines and waving their flags to try to encourage their team who appeared to have been handed a route back into the game when defender Sabri Akrout was shown a second yellow card in the 39th minute.
Instead, Tunisia extended their lead with a penalty at the beginning of the second half after Zalzman pushed and grabbed a Tunisian shirt. Mohamed Ben Larbi shot to the right beyond Beycker Velasquez’s attempt to save.
Hope was not lost yet for Venezuela. Marquez, who had missed a clear chance earlier, fired a low shot beyond Sabri Ben Hessen to lift the South Americans one goal from an equaliser.
Venezuela even hit the post again but Tunisia rode their luck to emerge with the precious three points.
After the match, Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel said: “We had a game plan, and that was what we came out with. We conceded two goals, which we aren‘t used to, and so we couldn’t do what we wanted to do with the time left. Also the fact that we missed our chances too.”
He refused to blame his goalkeeper: “Don’t forget I was a goalkeeper before, so I know all these things. Being in that position, he had a split second to make the decision and he did, but it turned out to be wrong and that is it.
“Five months ago he was the best goalkeeper in the whole of South America and he will bounce back.”
* This article appeared first on AIPSMedia.com, the website of the international sports journalists association which is running a Young Reporters course in UAE with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA