A dominant Brazil made a strong statement of their top title contender status with a 2-1 victory over Spain in a Group D marquee clash of the FIFA U-17 World Cup here today.
In a much-anticipated encounter in front of a sell-out crowd, Spain made a flying start and took the lead in the fifth minute through an own goal by Brazil defender Wesley, but soon lost the plot as the Brazilians turned the table on them.
Brazil, the overwhelming favourites of the packed stadium, took control of the match just after conceding the goal with far more possession and attacking. They scored through Lincoln (25th minute) and Paulinho (45+1).
The absence of Vinicius Junior was not felt as Brazil’s attacking trio of Lincoln, Paulinho and Brenner played better than their Spanish counterparts. Alan and Marcos Antonio gave the trio enough support.
Heat and humidity
Spain, who had five players from the famous La Masia academy and four from Real Madrid academy, were hit hard by the high humidity of Kochi while the Brazilians were able to cope with the situation as they had been in India for more than 10 days.
The fast-paced and open match between the champion sides of South America and Europe initially promised to be a goal fest but it was not to be. The neat exchange of passes, swift movement in attack and counter-attack were all there to see, though.
Spain began the match brightly, pressing hard in the attacking third and drew the first blood in the fifth minute. Ferran Torres got the better of his marker at the right flank and sent an inch-perfect low cross for Mohammed Moukhliss to send the ball in the direction of the post.
The last touch, however, was that of Wesley and an own goal was awarded against his name.
Spain dominated for a few minutes after the first goal but Brazil soon began to impose themselves on the match. Paulinho drilled in a low shot in the 18th minute, which the Spain goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez deflected off his hands and Lincoln missed the target off the rebound.
It was a matter of time before Brazil restored parity as Paulinho, Lincoln and Brenner began to have clear looks at the Spain goal which fell in the 25th minute.
A brilliant grounded cross from the left by Brenner found Lincoln in the perfect position inside the box and he slotted the ball home in his second attempt.
Then, in the 34th minute, Spain defender Mateu Jaume was taken off due to dehydration and was replaced by Victor Perea Gomez.
Brazil took the lead in the first half injury time through Paulinho. Marcos Antonio’s brilliant lobbed pass found the forward in a perfect position to fire it in and make it 2 -1 for the South American side.
Spain did better in the second session and pressed hard for the equaliser, but Brazil defence stood firm.
It was end-to-end action in most part of the second session. Spain looked for goals but Brazil hit them on the counter at will.
Marcos Antonio took on his marker and beat him for pace on one such opportunity, but his cross for Paulinho in the middle was cut out by the Spanish goalkeeper.