Ecuador booked their passage to the round of 16 here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico with a simple 2-0 victory over despairing African champions Burkina Faso, who now head for home at the first hurdle without a point or a goal to show for their efforts.
A prolific second half from the South Americans made the difference in Guadalajara as Group E finishes with Germany in first place, Ecuador through in second and Panama booking passage as one of the best third-place finishers in their first-ever FIFA U-17 finals.
There were no goals in an uninspired opening period, played at a slow tempo and without very many chances on goal or inspiring passages. The first opportunity to open the scoring didn’t come until the 18th minute when Burkina Faso's Romaric Pitroipa broke into the area and the ball bounced to the feet of Faical Ouedraogo, whose shot went well over the bar.
Ecuador followed up with a pair of attacks of their own in the 20th minute. Junior Sornoza’s first effort hardly troubled Burkinabe goalkeeper Seni Ouedraogo, but the next effort from Jose Cevallos nearly caught the net-minder napping. The Ecuadorian’s chip from behind the midfield stripe went over Ouedraogo, took a bounce in the area and flew just up and over the bar to a gasp from the small crowd.
Both sides saw half-chances go begging as the interval approached, but neither could find a route to goal. Ecuador came out from the locker rooms invigorated, however, and in the second period they were able to make a real impact on the game. Cevallos got his shooting sights aligned in the 75th minute as he placed his direct free-kick past the Burkina Faso keeper and into the top corner. Then, just two minutes later, Kevin Mercado collected a fine ball and poked simply into the back of the net from inside the area. The rest of the contest was mere formality as the Africans' heads had dropped and their spirits seemed sapped.
Germany move on from the section with a perfect nine points from their three games, and will face USA in the round of 16, where second-place Ecuador will meet a familiar foe in Brazil. Panama, who make history by reaching the knockout rounds, next face rampaging hosts Mexico.