THE DAY REPLAYED - Day Three of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 saw a show of European force. Spain earned the fastest red card in tournament history in their come-from-behind 2-1 win that twice had to be halted due to lighting failure, while near neighbours Italy ground out a slim win over a stingy Algerian outfit.
The first game of these finals from Kaduna saw Korea Republic heal some of the disappointment of their group stage exit as hosts two years ago, with a simple 3-1 win over Uruguay. Over in the Kano's early contest, UAE earned their first win at a U-17 finals with a tough 2-0 result over debutant Africans Malawi, who had two players ejected in an otherwise creditable performance. The brave Malawians became the first African debutants to lose a U-17 opener since 1993.
Goal of the day
Algeria-Italy, Federico Carraro 78'
Italy were pressing hard in search of a goal in Kaduna, but found themselves stymied time and again by a determined and stifling Algerian rearguard. Just as their confidence seemed to be fading away, substitute Federico Carraro made a stunning breakthrough. Alessandro Scialpi served in a free-kick from the left side and, after rebounding off the crossbar, the ball fell to Alessandro de Vitis, who chipped in a tantalising pass for new man Carraro, who spun and went airborne all in one motion to slam an acrobatic winner.
Click on the links in the right-hand column for full reports of the day's matches.
Nigeria's Korean cousins
It's no wonder that the South Koreans have been taken in as honorary Nigerians by the local fans in Kaduna. After all, when the west African Golden Eaglets soared to claim the last U-17 crown in Seoul two years ago, the East Asian host nation's supporters generously adopted the lively Nigerians after their own team went out in the group stages. The world really is getting smaller...
Malawi were dreaming of opening their first-ever FIFA competition with a stunning win against UAE in Kano. Their play in the first period was worthy of some reward, too, but they found themselves twice denied by the pesky woodwork. Bruno Milanzi and Tonhy Chitsulo both struck the frame of goal in the opening period, and it proved costly as the Asians stormed through in the second period to win out 2-0.
Too early a bath
Spain defender Sergi Gomez's big opening day lasted approximately one minute and five seconds. The centre-back was sent off after hauling down USA forward Jack McInerny, in alone on goal. Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai wasted no time reaching to his shirt pocket, where he keeps those nasty red ones. It was the fastest sending off in the history of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Spain managed to win in the end, though, roaring back with a pair of goals in eight first-half minutes.
Long way out
A goal and a man down, Malawi were pressing for an equaliser in their opener with UAE as the clocked ticked toward 90. Goalkeeper Cuthbert Seengwa got a touch overeager and when he pushed out to the end of the penalty area, Emirati hit-man Mohammad Sebil took full advantage. He chipped a marvellous goal from the midfield stripe to signal the end of the debutant Africans' brave fight.
2 - The red card to Spain's Gomez after only two minutes was the fastest in the history of the FIFA U-17 finals. The quickest prior expulsion went to Ghana's Willie Brown in 1991. It is not, however, the fastest red card in all FIFA competitions, that dubious distinction going to Uruguay's Jose Batista who was sent off after 55 seconds in a FIFA World Cup group clash with Scotland in 1986.