x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Mexico and Sweden advance to last 16 of Fifa U17 World Cup

Defending champions secure place in quarter-finals with 2-0 victory over Italy in Abu Dhabi, while Sweden cause an upset by beating much-fancied Japan 2-1 in Sharjah.

Alejandro Diaz, left, goes up for an aerial challenge with Italy's Ivan De Santis. Marwan Naamani / AFP
Alejandro Diaz, left, goes up for an aerial challenge with Italy's Ivan De Santis. Marwan Naamani / AFP

Italy 0

Mexico 2

Diaz 26’, Ochoa 90+2’

ABU DHABI // Raul Gutierrez, the Mexico coach, believes his team has grown in stature and confidence in the U17 World Cup after a 2-0 win over Italy in the round of 16.

“The players have been working really hard since our first game,” Gutierrez said, referring to the team’s 6-1 loss to Nigeria. “And I am very happy with the outcome of tonight’s game.

“I am more than hopeful we can take this momentum forward to the next game. What I liked was that my players gave everything in this game and demonstrated our true potential and the strength.”

Alejandro Diaz gave the defending champions a half time lead and Ivan Ochoa doubled it in injury time at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

Before learning the identity of their quarter-final opponents, Brazil, who beat Russia 3-1, Gutierrez said Mexico respect all opponents.

“We will see whom we meet next and make our game plan accordingly,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whom we meet, we will be prepared. We will try to maintain a good balance in the team.”

Daniele Zoratto, the Italy coach, was gracious in defeat and said they gained valuable experience from the competition.

“Italy have not featured regularly in this championship, which makes us think that they are not at the same level as Mexico and Uruguay, whom we played,” he said.

“We did quite well, though, to reach the round of 16. The match was close until the final whistle. Mexico scored the second goal in injury time. We know we, too, had chances to score in this game.”

Japan 1

Wahlqvist 56’ (og)

Sweden 2

Berisha 11’, Engvall 36’

Sweden kept the party going at their first Under 17 World Cup with a 2-1 win over Japan in their last-16 game in Sharjah.

The Scandinavians, powerful in the air and fast up the flanks, scored the opening goal after just 11 minutes. Mirza Halvadzic burst up the left side on a lightning counter-attack and crossed for Valmir Berisha, who poked home from point-blank range for his third goal of the finals.

Sweden doubled their lead on 36 minutes when Halvadzic burst up the wing again and fired a tame shot that Teimosii Shiraoka could only fumble. Striker Gustav Engvall was on hand to finish up the rebound for his third goal of the tournament.

Japan reduced the arrears in the second half when Sweden defender Linus Wahlqvist put the ball into his own goal while attempting to clear the danger.

Honduras 1

Bodden 74’

Uzbekistan 0

Sent off

Komilov (Uzbekistan)

Substitute Jorge Bodden grabbed a winner 15 minutes from time as Honduras reached the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan, who had Akramjon Komilov sent off midway through the first half for picking up two yellow cards.

Komilov’s dismissal was the turning point of the game, even though Uzbekistan managed to hold out for 50 minutes with the numerical disadvantage. Brayan Velasquez slipped away from the defender, who tried to stop the Honduras No 7 getting past by grabbing onto his shirt. Referee Pavel Kralovec showed Komilov his second yellow card, and he headed back to the dressing room for an early bath.

Bodden was introduced and tried an effort from distance, which went well wide - but the best was yet to come from the FC Municipal Valencia forward. Alberth Elis slid a through ball towards Velasquez, who turned on the left-hand side of the box to feed a clever pass through to Bodden, who fired in from close range.

Honduras now meet Sweden in the last eight.

apassela@thenational.ae

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