Brazil dispose of courageous Yemen
No surprises in Tampere on Wednesday 20 August 2003 as Brazil needed just 45 minutes to see off the threat of a gutsy and skilful Yemen side. The crowd at Ratina stadium were treated to a pearl of a goal in the closing minutes as Arouca hit a screamer into the top corner to seal a comfortable win. Brazil now head for Turku where they take on the USA in the quarter-finals.
The two-time U-17 world champions, fresh from drubbing Portugal, were always going to be a class above the new kids on the block, but the side from the Middle East refused to be overawed, well aware that a shock win would see them through. Their hopes were soon dented however, when Evandro headed down a floating ball that was deflected by Yemen defender Ali Al Baiti and crept over the line despite keeper Mohammed Al Ayash’s best efforts (1-0, 28’).
Just as was the case against the Portuguese, the first goal gave the auriverde the fillip they needed. Jonathan chipped a ball over for Evandro, whose toe poke grazed the right-hand post (31’). A minute later Ederson put Evandro through the middle and this time he made no mistake, lobbing over the outcoming Al Ayash (2-0, 32’).
Yemen showed their mettle by hitting back through their star player in the competition Abdulelah Sharyan, whose strike hit the post with keeper Bruno beaten (35’).
Sharyan was back in behind the Brazilian defence at the start of the second half, but was caught by the fleet-footed Arouca, who played with the speed and maturity of a pro today. The game stagnated somewhat thereafter, with chances fewer and far between.
"My team played excellently in the first half, but at 2-0 they sat back a bit, maybe thinking it was all over,” lamented Brazil coach Paqueta after the match. "That let Yemen back into the match and they created some good chances."
Yemen were indeed the more enterprising of the two sides in the second period. Sharyan forced Bruno to save at his feet (72’) and then Akram Al Selwi went close with a stunning low volley after a great team move (74’).
Brazil awoke from their slumbers in the closing minutes, as if to remind observers they are the same side that thrashed Portugal. Sub Felipe thought he had scored with a header, only for Mohanad Munassar to clear miraculously off his line (80’). Arouca then lit up proceedings with a beautifully struck free-kick past Ayash from fully 25 metres (3-0, 86’).
The referee then handed out a flurry of cards, bringing the total to ten, including two reds for Yemen. “We were unlucky with the sendings-off in the second period," noted coach Amen Al Sunaini. “But I’m happy with the match nonetheless because Brazil are a good test for my players.”
Al Sunaini can look back with some pride at his side’s adventurous, technically gifted displays in Finland. As for the Brazilians, they finish top of their group and head for Turku, where they will take on the USA for a place in the semi-finals.