LUCA BIANCHIN / AIPS* in ABU DHABI: Champions Mexico maintained their revival in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup UAE 2013 by reaching the quarter-finals with an Italian-style 2-0 victory over the Azzurrini.
The Mexicans scored once in the first half then defended strongly throughout the second to secure progress with a second goal on a brekaway in the last minutes of the game.
Alejandro Diaz was the hero for his country: he scored the first goal with a powerful shot from long distance which caught Simone Scuffet, the best goalkeeper of the tournament, in no-man’s land. Ivan Ochoa scored the second with Scuffet struggling to get back into position.
Mexican coach Raul Gutierrez can be pleased with the discipline his players displayed while Italy’s Daniele Zoratto tried to convert his classic 4-4-2 in a more offensive 4-2-4 during the game with poor results.
Michael Fabbro had two chances. He missed the first while Mexican goalkeeper Raul Gudino saved the second superbly.
In the first half Mexico could not control possession, as they had done against Sweden, because of Italy’s enegery. Zoratto’s 4-4-2 formation, however, produced only two goal opportunities.
Captain Alberto Cerri wasted the first in the 24th minute when he lost out in a one-on-one against goalkeeper Raul Gudino.
Two minutes later, Mexico scored. Striker Diaz controlled a ball outside the goal area and made it 1-0 with a masterpiece from 25m which took Scuffet by surprise.
Out of luck
Italy pushed the turbo button to try to level the score and went close to their fourth goal in the tournament when Inter midfielder Antonio Romano that hit the post with a lobbed header.
At halftime Italy replaced Demetrio Steffè, a solid right midfielder, with the more offensive Gennaro Tutino, and eight minutes later Luca Vido , man of the match against Cote d’Ivoire and New Zealand, was forced off by injury.
His substitute, Fabbro, went close to his first goal in the tournament with an attempt similar to the famous Roberto Baggio’s shot against France in the 1998 World Cup. Both missed the target by a few inches.
Mexico replaced two players – Marco Granados and Christian Tovar taking over from Luis Hernandez and Ulises Jaimes – and could have closed out the game in the middle of the second half on a counter-attack.
This time Granados’s shot was pushed away by Scuffet, confirmed his “best goalkeeper” status.
Italy attacked bravely for the rest of the match only to be caught out, finally, by Ochoa.
* 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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