ALAN VACCARO, ENITAN OBADINA / AIPS in RAS AL-KHAIMAH: Uruguay needed a dramatic scrambled goal in the final minute of stoppage time to rescue a 1-1 draw against Cote d’Ivoire as Group B resumed at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
Failing to hold out could prove costly for the African champions while Uruguay are virtually certain of a second-round place.
Cote d’Ivoire, needing victory to avoid slipping to the brink of elimination, dominated the early proceedings.
They failed initially to create a serious threat until Keita Aboubakar unleashed a low shot which Uruguayan defender Joel Bergonis sliced past his own goalkeeper in the 17th minute.
The Ivorians twice wasted opportunities to increase their lead but eventually coach Fabio Coito’s Uruguayans began to show glimpses of the form which had brought seven goals in their opener against New Zealand.
Franco Acosta missed with a header then shot against a post while Marcio Benitez put an equalising opportunity over the bar.
Uruguay, encouraged by their noisy but increasing worried fans, stepped up a gear after the interval.
Yet the Ivorians, who seemed increasingly content to defend, might have extended their own advantage on the break. Instead, a side-footed, 20m effort from the outstanding Keita ricocheted away off the angle of post and bar.
Uruguay made the most of their escape. In the second minute of stoppage time the Ivorians failed to clear a left-wing cross and Franco Acosta swivelled to shoot in the equaliser with the last kick of the game.
The goal not only levelled the score but virtually ensured Uruguay’s place in the knockout stage.
Uruguayan coach Coito said the game had been difficult as he had expected. His team had been troubled by a mixture of fatigue and the “level of our opponents.”
He added: “If we had not scored at the end I would have been very happy with the team as because never surrendered and always sought the result.”
Ibrahima Kamara, coach of Cote d’Ivoire, looked ahead to find the positives after a disappointing last minute.
He said: “We are here to prepare our players for their future career. After the defeat against Italy, it was important for us not to lose against Uruguay. We’ll focus on concentration in the next days: it’s important to solve this problem.”
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course in UAE with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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