U-17 WC: Penaloza's brace breaks Indian hearts


Jeakson Thounaojam scores India's first goal in World Cup

AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 9th Oct: Two second-half goals by Juan Penaloza gave Colombia a 2-1 victory over India in an entertaining FIFA U-17 World Cup encounter in New Delhi on Monday evening.

The South American’s win came despite Jeakson Thounaojam scoring India’s first-ever goal in a FIFA competition.

A pulsating first half at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium saw India come ever so close to breaking the deadlock. However, Abhijit Sarkar’s close-range shot was well saved by Colombia goalkeeper Kevin Mier before Rahul Kannoly struck the post for the tournament hosts in stoppage time.

In between those Indian opportunities, their goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem continued his impressive form with a series of fine saves to keep the Colombians at bay.

That encouraging first half had the Indian fans anticipating even better things after the break. But on 49 minutes, Penaloza had other ideas. Taking a cross from the left, the Colombian edged along the top of the India box before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed shot past Moirangthem for a 1-0 lead.

The advantage lasted until the late stages, when India’s endeavours to score finally paid off from a corner on 82 minutes. An unmarked Thounaojam rose highest to head home an historic first FIFA tournament goal for his country. It brought delirium to the New Delhi crowd, but before they could fully savour that special moment, Penaloza struck again a minute later to put Colombia back in front for good, as he slid home after taking a pass off the chest from Gustavo Carvajal.

Paraguay scored late goals to come out on top in a high-scoring thriller, this time beating New Zealand 4-2 to qualify for the knockout rounds with a game to spare at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

Anibal Vega was the hero for the South Americans, bagging a three-minute brace in the second half, which papered over a first-half nightmare for Alexis Duarte, who was unfortunate to score two own goal in a 14-minute stretch. It was lined up to be a more simple evening for the Paraguayans after they went ahead in the second minute through Alan Rodriguez's speculative long free kick, but Duarte’s night went bad in the 20th minute and got worse from there as the Kiwis pressed into the attacking third.

Stunned to be behind, Los Guaranies spurred to life as the second half wore on, and Julio Baez just skimmed the bar in the 69th minute. Vega’s decisive goals were both created with aplomb by Leonardo Sanchez, and Blas Armoa finished the entertaining contest with another tally from a speculative long ball a minute in injury time.

A late winner from substitute Ayo Akinola saw USA defeat Ghana 1-0 and go top of Group A at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

In what was an intriguing contest at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, the Stars and Stripes made the Black Starlets pay for their missed chances in Monday’s second group match.

The first half was evenly played, with USA edging the number of chances created before the break. Blaine Ferri, in particular, went closest to scoring for the Americans, but both his free-kick effort and a dangerous-looking strike from the edge of the Ghana box missed the target.

The second half saw a more determined Ghana come out and press the initiative, as they created a handful of quality chances just after the break through Sadiq Ibrahim and Emmanuel Toku, in particular.

Ghana would come to regret not taking their chances, as USA won all three points thanks to Akinola's goal on 75 minutes. He slotted a neat finish past Ghana goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim to propel the Stars and Stripes to the top of the group after two straight victories.

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