LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS* in AL AIN: Despite the nightmare start of a 6-1 defeat by Nigeria, champions Mexico reached the second round of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 thanks to a substitute’s late goal.
Mexico’s next test in their title defence after a 1-0 win over Sweden is provided by Italy in the knockout stage in Abu Dhabu on Monday. They will have had less than three days’ rest.
Ulises Jaimes’s diving header to a left-wing, near-post corner in the 86th minute rewarded a performance of rentless attack by the Mexicans against a Swedish team who appeared to view the match as a 90-minute training exercise for their defenders.
The Mexicans’ domination of posession meant the match was far from being the most entertaining in the tournament.
After a cautious start in the heat captured below the hills rising behind Al Ain, Mexico soon began to pursue the victory which was essential.
Vitor Zuniga had one shot easily saved by keeper Sixten Mohlin in the first half and Luis Hernandez embarked upon a long run into the penalty area only to be halted by Noah Sonko Sundberg.
Mexico maintained their pressure in the second half. Ivan Ochoa was denied an opening by a stray Swedish leg while Alejandro Diaz would surely have scored had his shot not ricocheted off one of the Swedish twins, Johan Ramhorn, and flown out for a corner.
In the end James, who had replaced Zuniga after half-time, sent his team to Abu Dhabi on Monday – Mexico’s most important substitution.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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