Neither Rwanda nor Canada were able to get the goal they needed to take them through to the knockout rounds, drawing 0-0 at the Estadio Hidalgo in their last Group C game. England take the section laurels with seven points and are followed through to the next round by Uruguay.
Everything was on the line in Pachuca, with the winner of the contest guaranteed a place in the next round as one of the top third-place finishers. The game began at a cautious pace, with both sides all too aware of how much was at stake. The first real chance came after ten minutes when the lively Rwandan No10 Andrew Buteera evaded a pair of Canadian defenders and fired a shot just over Quillan Roberts’ crossbar while cutting from left to right across the top of the penalty area.
The Canadians responded in the 24th minute, after a good spell of possession in midfield. Captain Bryce Alderson lofted a high free-kick in from the left side that soared up and over Rwanda’s goalkeeper Marcel Nzaroza, but towering defender Luca Gasparotto was unable to guide his header into the unguarded net from an acute angle.
Most of the attacking in the opening period was coming from the North Americans, with the Africans relying primarily on long-range efforts from deep in a hunt of their first-ever goal at a FIFA finals. It nearly paid off when Mwesigye Tibingana’s effort from well out had Canada’s Roberts scrambling to tip over the bar as the half-time whistle approached.
The Canadians came out gunning for goal after the restart and Sadi Jalali raced in at the corner of the box, forcing Nzaroza into a diving save. Shortly after, their outstanding playmaker Keven Aleman slid in an effort from just inside the area, but again the Canucks were denied by the sprawling Rwanda keeper. The Africans nearly took the lead at the other end on the hour-mark with what must, in truth, be considered the chance of the game up to that point. Bonfils Kabanda worked the ball up the left side and crossed for Buteera, who somehow managed to put his shot over the gaping goal.
The game developed a desperate, end-to-end tempo from there on out, with neither side willing to accept the draw, a result which would send both of them out. Kabanda again had a great chance form the edge of the area after some clever approach work from the Tibingana picked him out all alone. But the shot couldn’t match the build-up for quality and it flew up and over the bar.
The Rwandans upped the tempo in the dying moments, but neither side were able to find the crucial goal and both head for home at the first hurdle. England, who beat Uruguay in the other section game in Torreon, win the group and the Celeste follow them through in second place.