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Youth Olympics

Hosts hit goals target, last four line-up complete

(FIFA.com)
Facundo Gassman #5 of Argentina celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Panama
© Getty Images

THE DAY REPLAYED – In front of 6,300 raucous fans who created an electric atmosphere in the Main Futsal Hall right from the outset, Argentina eventually scored the goals they required to qualify for the semi-finals of the Men’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament Buenos Aires 2018, where they will lock horns with South American rivals Brazil.

The hosts’ chances were dealt an early blow, however, when Jair Ogilvie gave Panama a shock lead in the fifth minute. Acutely aware that his charges had to conjure up a win by six clear goals over the 35 minutes that remained, Argentina coach Matias Lucuix rolled the dice and adopted a fly goalkeeper. Spurred on by the fervent crowd, they launched incessant attacks, many of which would break down due to hurried finishes and basic mistakes.

The goals began to flow, though, and their general play improved markedly, much to the excitement of the fans. La Albiceleste went into the break with a 6-2 lead, but with Egypt beating Slovakia comfortably at CeNARD Hall, they knew that the best they could hope for would be second place in Group A. But in order to achieve that, they would require two additional goals.

In the second half, the Argentinians went for it, pushing and probing in an intense but intelligent manner. With 14 minutes to go, they finally attained the six-goal margin they craved, captain Facundo Gassman – who struck six times on the night – making it 8-2.

When the final whistle went in the Egypt-Slovakia game, there were still seven minutes left in the Main Futsal Hall. During that time, the hosts put the icing on the cake by extending their winning margin to ten and delighting their joyful supporters, who burst into good-natured chants aimed at semi-final opponents Brazil.

Despite building a healthy lead early on, the Brazilians, playing in the first pair of matches, did not look terribly fluid against the Solomon Islands, who created several chances but lacked accuracy in their finishing. The South Americans did not have that particular problem, however, exhibiting ruthlessness in front of goal. As the game went on, the difference between the two teams became starker, and that was reflected on the scoreboard.

In the only encounter with nothing at stake, IR Iran demonstrated some lethal counter-attacking versus a Costa Rica side that fought hard but failed to dominate the game, despite enjoying a 60 per cent ball possession rate. A 3-1 lead after seven minutes proved to be a false dawn for Los Ticos, and once the Asians gained a foothold in the match, there was only going to be one winner.

Did you know?

  • Teams were quick off the mark on Saturday: Brazil scored through Guilhermao after 23 seconds of play, while Ivan Corrales notched Costa Rica’s opener after 70 seconds.
  • Costa Rica’s Yosel Leon and Jose Madriz became the first two players to be shown red cards in the men’s tournament.

What’s next
15 October

  • Brazil-Argentina, Semi-final 1, Main Futsal Hall
  • Egypt-Russia, Semi-final 2, Main Futsal Hall

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