Brazil took time to break down an ultra-defensive North Korea but eventually ran away 2-0 victors at Kochi on Tuesday to qualify for the knock-out round of the Fifa U-17 World Cup. North Korea, who lost their opening match to Niger 0-1, played majority part of the Group D match in their own half, often placing all their 10 outfield players behind the ball.
The relentless attack from the tournament favourites, however, proved too much for the Asian side as their defence wilted under pressure after the hour mark. Brazil, who had beaten Spain 2-1 in their opening marquee match, scored through Lincoln (56th) and Paulinho (61st) to take full three points and qualify for the round of 16 with one match to spare.
The goal finally came in the 56th minute with Lincoln heading in from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner of the net following a set piece situation. Five minutes later, Brazil made it 2-0 after a nice build-up weaving through the North Korean defence. Brenner sent a perfect through ball for Paulinho, who sent a beautiful left-footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner of the net.
North Korea, who were chasing the game, made one late attempt at the Brazil goal without any success. In the 83rd minute, Kim Pom Hyok’s right-footed shot was saved by keeper Brazao.
Spain rout Niger
European powerhouse Spain bounced back from their opening loss in style and notched up a 4-0 victory over Niger in their Group D match. The reigning European champions recovered from a defeat in their tournament opener swiftly to open their account.
Spain was up 1-0 when Abel Ruiz’s tap-in found the back of the net in the 21st minute. Ruiz was at the right place and easily converted Juan Miranda’s cross from the left flank. Spain doubled the lead just before the half time, and yet again it was Ruiz, who was in the thick of things as the Barcelona youth player scored off a Sergio Gomez free-kick in the 41st minute.
Niger’s agony did not end there as Spain added one more goal in the first-half injury time through Cesar. The second half began on better note for the Africans as went without conceding till Gomez hit the target in the 82nd minute. The Niger goalkeeper had no chance against Gomez’s left-footer from outside the box. Debutants Niger, last Saturday defeated North Korea 1-0 to register their maiden Fifa World Cup win in what was their maiden appearance.
Guinea hold Costa Rica
Goalkeeper Ricardo Montenegro’s heroic effort between the sticks helped Costa Rica hold Guinea to a 2-2 draw in what was a Group C match. The South Americans, who played a waiting game keeping their defence compact, took the lead in the 26th minute through Yecxy Jarquin.
Guinea dominated the match creating several scoring changes but were denied by Montenegro until Fondje Toure restored parity in the 30th minute. Costa Rica once again took the lead after the change of ends through Andre Gomez taking advantage of the shaky rival defence in the 67th minute. But the African side kept on pressing hard and defender Ibrahima Soumah levelled scores, nine minutes before full-time.
Thereafter, it was Guinea all the way who kept on pressing in search of the winner but Mongtenegro was a tough nut to crack as he made several saves to deny the African side the victory. The draw kept both the teams’ hopes alive as they have one point each.
Meanwhile, Iran pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament after handing out an astonishing 4-0 defeat to European giants Germany.
(With inputs from PTI)