FIFA U-17 WC: Impressive Spain sinks Iran to enter semifinal

On a balmy Sunday evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, the Iranian coach was proved right as an impressive Spain poked holes in his side’s defensive gameplan to chalk out a 3-1 win to enter the semifinals.

Spain’s Sergio Gomez (No.10) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against Iran during the FIFA U-17 World Cup football match at Nehru Stadium in Kochi.   -  H. Vibu

Perhaps Iranian coach Abbas Chamanian was realistic when he said at the pre-match press conference that it was mission impossible to beat Spain in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

On a balmy Sunday evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, the Iranian coach was proved right as an impressive Spain poked holes in his side’s defensive gameplan to chalk out a 3-1 win to enter the semifinals.

Ferran Torres was the standout player for Spain in front of a record crowd of 28,436. The midfielder scored a goal and had a hand in the other two goals. Abel Ruiz (13th), Sergio Gomez (60th) and Ferran Torres (67th) scored for Spain while substitute Saeid Karimi reduced the margin for Iran in the 70thminute.

Match Centre

Iran started out on a defensive 4-5-1 pattern while Spain pushed four men upfront to adopt a more attacking strategy. There wasn’t much change in the script as Iran allowed Spain to dominate possession, but what was surprising was the vulnerability shown by the normally watertight Iran defence. Iran, which had never conceded an early goal in the first half, did so for the first time in the tournament. Spanish captain Abel Ruiz’s fourth goal of the tournament couldn’t have come at a better time and it enabled Spain to assert its superiority quite early in the match.

Semifinal Line-up
1. England vs Brazil, Guwahati ( 1700 IST)
2. Spain vs Mali, Navi Mumbai (2000 IST)

 

Quarterfinal 1: Mali outwits Ghana to enter semifinals

Quarterfinal 2: Brewster hat-trick sends England into semis

Ferran Torres’ piercing runs on the right flank were a constant threat to the Iranian defence. The opening goal came off one such incisive run from Torres on the right flank in the 13th minute. The Spanish No. 7 arrowed in a precise cross off which Sergio Gomez attempted a first time shot from near the left post. The ball rebounded off an Iranian defender’s body and came to Sergio Gomez again who, this time, found Abel Ruiz with a perfect cross. Abel’s first try ricochetted off Amir Esmaeil Zadeh’s body and the rebound came to Ruiz again who buried it into the back of the net with a low shot.

 

The wave of Spanish moves didn’t subside but Iran despite its errors managed to avert danger. The next best chance for Spain came in the 33rd minute when Iranian goalkeeper Al Gholam Zadeh half-stopped a cross from Ferran Torres and the loose ball came to Cesar Gelabert who shot out. It was only in the fag end of the first half that Iran managed to enter the rival box.

The second half was played at a hetic pace and Spain had an early shy at the goal when Torres’ left footed shot induced a good save from Gholam Zadeh in the 51st minute. Iran’s positive riposte however only succeeded in opening up the channels for Spain to lauch more offensive moves. Spain created a plethora of chances and Sergio Gomez’s left footer from 22 yards in the 60th minute killed the contest physiologically for Iran. Torres again did the spadework for the goal from the right flank.

Torres got onto the score sheet himself as he slid in to guide an accurate cross from Mohammed Moukhliss in the 67th minute. Iran finally gave a glimpse of its couterattacking ability by scoring a goal in the 70th minute. A long ball from the centre into the Spanish box was chipped to Saeid Karimi by Mohammed Sardari. Karimi made no mistake with the finish.

Abel Ruiz fluffed a golden chance to increase the lead in the 74th minute when he shot from close after goalkeeper Gholam Zadeh fumbled to collect a Juan Mirada cross from left.

At the other end, Spanish goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez pushed out an attempt from Mohammed Sardari in the 85th minute as Iran pressed hard for a comeback. Spain saw out the game and will go on to meet Mali in the semifinal on Wednesday.

The result:

Spain 3 (Abel Ruiz 13, Sergio Gomez 60, Ferran Torres 67) bt Iran 1 (Saeid Karimi 70).

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