THE DAY REPLAYED: There were goals aplenty as the group stage of the 2014 Boys’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament came to a close in Nanjing, with two teams writing a fresh chapter in their respective histories by progressing to the semi-finals. Peru clinched top spot in Group C with a convincing victory against Honduras to ensure their passage into the last four, where they will join the Cape Verde Islands, who also reached this stage for the first time following a resounding win against Vanuatu.
Peru 3-1– Honduras (2-0)
Both teams began cautiously with the first opportunity of note spurned by Peru’s Fabio Rojas, who fired over the rebound from Fernando Pacheco’s free-kick. Half an hour in Pacheco was fouled in the box, however, and Franklin Gil duly converted from the spot. The South Americans were again awarded a penalty three minutes later, with Christopher Olivares stepping up to slot home for a 2-0 half-time lead. In the second half chances remained few and far between, at least until Darwin Melendez headed in a third for Peru from Ray Contreras’ cross. Honduras did manage to pull one back late on through Alex Laureano, but it was nothing more than a consolation.
Vanuatu 1-7 Cape Verde Islands (1-4)
The two island nations threw caution to the wind in the battle for second place behind section winners Korea Republic. Cape Verde were three goals to the good inside eight minutes thanks to goals from Kenny, Andradino and Ricardo, before Jules Bororoa pulled one back for Vanuatu. Ricardo struck again to restore the deficit, however, and in the second half the Cape Verdeans really turned up the heat, with Ricardo, Kelvin and Andradino all adding further strikes to leave their first semi-final participation at a FIFA tournament in precious little doubt.
Darwin Melendez’s header was Peru’s fifth goal of the competition but simultaneously a first for the South Americans, who were previously yet to score from open play. In their opening victory against Iceland they netted from two free-kicks and their opening two goals against Honduras were penalties.
A goal is a goal…
It doesn’t have to be the winner – sometimes even a paltry consolation can be enough to evoke scenes of unbounded joy. Take Honduras’ Alex Laureano and Vanuatu’s Jules Bororoa, who each scored ultimately meaningless goals for their teams, but still celebrated to the full.
9 – Peru are competing in their ninth FIFA tournament in Nanjing, heaving previously taken part in four FIFA World Cups™(1930, 1970, 1978, 1982), two Olympic Football Tournaments (1936, 1960) and two FIFA U-17 World Cups (2005, 2007). However, La Blanquirroja have reached the semi-finals for the very first time in Nanjing.
Peru – Cape Verde Islands, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Sunday 24 August, 18:00 local time
Korea Republic – Iceland, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Sunday 24 August, 20:45 local time