An impressive defensive display from the Tunisians kept out the South Americans, who were impressive throughout and will likely rue not taking more of their many chances. Venezuela, playing in their first FIFA U-17 World Cup, looked lively for most of the first-half despite a hot opening few minutes from Tunisia.
The South Americans first chance came after just eight minutes when Jose Caraballo’s cross from the right found Jose Marquez, who was only denied by a brilliant save from goalkeeper Sabri Ben Hessen.
Very much in the ascendancy, Venezuela had another chance ten minutes later as David Zalzman, the team’s elegant playmaker, tried a shot from outside the area that splattered against the post. It was the Tunisian’s that got the opening goal, proving themselves more proficient with the killer punch. In truth, they were helped a great deal by Venezuela goalkeeper Beycker Velasquez, who misjudged the flight of a simple ball to allow Chiheb Jbeli to collect and pass into an open net.
The Venezuelans were given a lifeline in the dying minutes of the first period when Sabri Akrout was shown a second yellow card and promptly given his marching orders. However, it was the north Africans who started the second-half sharper, despite being down a man. Mohamed Ben Larbi hit home from the spot in the 47th minute after Diego Osio committed a clear foul in the area.
Venezuela responded straight away, though, with Marquez scoring the nation’s first-ever goal at a FIFA U-17 World Cup when he blistered a low shot into the corner. David Zalzman then had a great chance to draw level for the Venezuelans, who dominated play on the day, but his curling shot slammed against the crossbar.
Tunisia will face off with Russia hoping to keep up the results in their next match on 21 October in Sharjah, while Venezuela will be keen to turn their fine play into goals when they meet east Asian side Japan that same day.