Uruguay, who finished runners-up at the last FIFA U-17 World Cup two years ago in Mexico, booked their place in the Round of 16 in UAE with a 2-1 win over Italy in Ras Al-Kaimah. The result sees the South Americans finish Group B as section winners with the Italians joining them in the knockout stages with a second-place finish. The section’s third-place team, Côte d'Ivoire, are also through thanks to later results in Group A.
The Uruguayans began the contest with regular starters Franco Acosta and Kevin Mendez on the bench in a surprise move. The first 20 minutes of the game were played at a frenetic pace, with half-chances emerging for both sides.
The first real opportunity came Italy’s way after 11 minutes, and the Europeans made the most of it. Luca Vido picked up the ball on the right wing and beat his man for pace toward the goal-line. Vittorio Parigini failed to make clean contact with his header, but it somehow trickled over the line anyway. Uruguay defender Joel Bregonis did his all to clear the ball away, but he arrived on the scene a few seconds late.
The defender was certainly in the right place at the right time four minutes later at the other end as he drew Uruguay level with a fine header. Gastón Faber’s short corner-kick came back to him and he crossed perfectly to the back post, where Bregonis powered his header into the back of the net without even having to jump.
The Uruguayans were in the lead in the 64th minute. The impressive Leandro Otormin tried to loop the ball up and over a defender in the penalty area, but his creative attempt was cleared away. Unfortunately for the Italian defence, the ball went only as far as Marcio Benitez, who was lurking at the edge of the box. His low shot flew right in to the corner.
With 20 minutes to go, the Italians had their keeper Simone Scuffet to thank when he denied a clear Uruguayan goal. Chasing a through-ball from Benitez, Otormin couldn’t guide his shot into the far corner because of the long lunge of the Italian No1, who pulled off one of the best saves of these finals. In the end it didn’t really matter as the keeper’s mates in attack couldn’t find a way to breach the Uruguayan rearguard.