LUCA BIANCHIN / AIPS in RAS AL KHAIMAH: The Celeste made the Azzurrini feel truly blue as Uruguay beat Italy 2-1 at the climax of Group B in the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
They thus avoided a possible South American clash in the quarter-finals by winning the group and taking over top spot from the Italians.
Franco Acosta and Kevin Mendez came on as substitutes 14 minutes into the second half and, only five minutes later, Marcio Benitez scored what proved the winning goal.
Uruguay will stay in Ras Al Khaimah as favourites against a team from group A, C or D in the second round of 16. Italy will travel to Abu Dhabi to play Nigeria, Sweden or Mexico with the unpleasant probability of a quarterfinal against the Brazilians.
Italy started well. Coach Daniele Zoratto chose to use Demetrio Steffè as a right midfielder and Vittorio Parigini on the left. His opposite number omitted stars Mendez and Acosta from his characteristic 4-2-3-1 formation.
In the first minutes, the old fashioned Italian 4-4-2 worked better: the midfield was consistent and Luca Vido, man of the match in the first two games, provided the 10th-minute assist for Parigini’s first goal in the tournament.
Uruguay reacted powerfully with three shots on goal in 120 seconds. Simone Scuffet denied efforts by Franco Pizzichillo before, in the 15th minute, Uruguay equalised.
Gaston Faber crossed from the right, the ball flew over all the Azzurrini, to the far post where unmarked Joel Bregonis headed in.
After that the match, played at high speed in the first minutes, became less less interesting as Uruguay stopped pushing the ball up while Italian captain Alberto Cerri tried his best for Italy. Faber and Bregonis both had to foul him to protect Thiago Cardozo’s goal.
The second half was uneventful until Coito chose to replace Faber and Latorre with Mendez and Acosta.
Four minutes later Italian defender Ivan De Santis failed to clear and Benitez’s thunderous low drive put Uruguay ahead.
For Italy, it was the worst moment of the tournament.
Substitutes Enrico Baldini and Andrea Palazzi did not help the midfield and Scuffet had to save well from both Leandro Otormin and Acosta.
Italy wasted an occasion to score when Vido miscontrolled a brilliant through pass from Cerri so Zoratto decided to play the last 13 minutes with a third forward, AC Milan’s Michael Fabbro.
The move did not work. Uruguay maintained their advantage so their noisy fans can book their hotel for other six nights in Ras Al Khaimah.