x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Venezuela's debut joy

Venezuela marked their tournament debut by beating Nigeria, one of the favourites, 1-0 on Friday night.

CAIRO // Venezuela marked their tournament debut by beating Nigeria, one of the favourites, 1-0 on Friday night. Before coming to Egypt, Venezuela had never qualified for any of Fifa's world championship tournaments at any age group. Yonathan Del Valle struck in the 45th minute of the South Americans' Group B opener, shortly after Nigeria were reduced to 10 men. Lukman Haruna was sent off for stamping on a Venezuela player's leg.

"We've given Venezuela it's first victory," Del Valle said. "[Everyone] thought we were going to lose. That was a big mistake." The Nigeria coach, Samson Siaisa, a former international who played at the 1994 World Cup, made no secret of his disappointment. "Who can be pleased with defenders who can't even defend?" Siaisa said. "I told them in the dressing room, 'What is going on? ... How come you keep leaving strikers wide open?'."

Venezuela have three points in Group B along with Spain, who hammered Tahiti 8-0 to achieve their biggest ever under 20 win. They scored four goals in each half. Aaron Niguez and Emilio Nsue grabbed two each before the break. Kike, the substitute, added another two in the second half, and was joined by Ander Herrera and Fran Merida, the Arsenal midfielder, to seal the Group B rout. In Group A, the Italy goal- keeper, Vincenzo Fiorillo, kept an impressive Paraguay at bay in a goalless draw.

"The main goal was to stand up to Italy, and we did that really well. We had an outstanding day in midfield," said the Paraguay coach, Adrian Coria. * AP