LUKA PETRINEC / AIPS* in ABU DHABI: Classy Mexico on the wings of inspaired Ivan Ochoa and goalkeeper Raul Gudino returned to the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup after a ruthless 3-0 defeat of Argentina. El Tri are on course – back in Abu Dhabi on Friday – to repeat the achievement of the previous generation on home soil two years ago.
From the first minute this was a game worthy of the semi-final stage with a high pace and attacking attitude from both sides.
That positive approach led, in the third minute, to the award of a penalty for Argentina after the Mexico defender Salamon Wbias tripped Argentina striker Sebastian Driussi. The River Plate striker decided to take the kick but Mexican keeper Raul Gudino read his mind and dived left to make a fine save.
An old football rule warns that a team who miss a goal concede one. Hence, two minutes later, Mexico won a left-wing corner. Captain Ulises Rivas took it, Argentina twice failed to clear and Wbias headed on for Ivan Ochoa to volley the defending champions into the lead.
In the 18th minutes Argentina might have equalised by Marcos Astina’s close-range shot was excellently saved by the goalkeeper Gudino.
Again, the miss proved fatal. Three minutes later Rivas took a free kick 15 meters into the Argentinian half, Ulises Jaimes headed it square and Ochoa was again in the right place to score his fourth goal in the tournament.
Still worse was to come for Argentina. First Driussi wasted another chance then Joaquin Ibanez inflicted a two-footed stamp on the outstreched leg of Omar Govea. Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi had no option but to show Ibanez the red card.
Argentina, after only half an hour, were thus two goals down, and one man down.
Mexico, holding all the cards, soaked up pressure from a still-spirited Argentina in the second half. But Argentina continued to waste the chances they did create and were punished further with a third Mexican goal by substitute Marco Granados in the 86th minute.
Finally, to deepen Argentina’s depression, goalkeeper Augusto Batalla was sent off for bringing down Christian Tovar just outside the penalty box.
Their dream of winning the under-17 crown for the first time had turned into a nightmare.
* 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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