France the only victors on day of penalties

THE DAY REPLAYED – Matchday 6 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 served up plenty of talking points, although this time goals were not the main topic of conversation. While the teams in Groups E and F found the net most frequently in their opening fixtures (17), this time their tally was considerably smaller (11).

Instead it was the battle between goalkeepers and penalty takers that provided a gripping spectacle, with a total of five spot-kicks awarded in Puerto Montt and Concepcion. Three penalties were converted, while nerves got the better of the takers on two occasions.

Tournament debutants South Africa may not have been able to defeat Asian champions Korea DPR in Group E, but they nevertheless managed to earn their first ever point at the finals. Prior to the competition, coach Molefi Ntseki had confidently stated that his charges had the potential to write their names in the annals of South African footballing history. They have already done so, having scored a maiden tournament goal in their opening game and now drawn with Korea DPR.

The other fixture in this group between Russia and Costa Rica also ended 1-1, a result which meant neither side could seal their place in the Round of 16.

After easing to victory over New Zealand in their first Group F assignment, France picked up were they had left off and raced to an early 2-0 lead over Paraguay. However, the South Americans fought back and twice pulled level before the European champions eventually secured a 4-3 win to become the fourth nation to book their ticket to the last 16 after Korea Republic, Nigeria and Germany.

Elsewhere, luck was not on Connor Probert’s side. The New Zealand striker had the chance to hand his team victory but missed from the penalty spot, thereby extending the Kiwis’ winless streak at the finals to seven games (six defeats, one draw).

Results *Group E *South Africa 1-1 Korea DPR Russia 1-1 Costa Rica

Group F New Zealand 0-0 Syria Paraguay 3-4 France

Memorable moments *A point is not enough *Once the final whistle blew in Syria’s match against New Zealand, the Syrian players - almost in unison - sank to the ground in disappointment, with some members of the squad in tears as they made their way back to the changing room. Although they had just earned their first point of the tournament and can still reach the next round, their minds were already on their decisive final group game. There they will meet France, who have demonstrated in impressive fashion precisely why they are among the favourites to take the crown in Chile.

Last-ditch effort During stoppage time of the match between South Africa and Korea DPR, South African goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto was unable to contain himself. Charging forward to the halfway line he foiled an attempted attack by the Koreans, before continuing to advance up the field. However, his foray forward failed to end in a goal and the match stayed at 1-1. *

*French goal guarantee The most goals scored in a single game at these finals has been seven – and France have been involved on both occasions, albeit with very different scorelines. While the European champions posted an impressive 6-1 triumph over New Zealand, Les Bleuets were made to sweat for long periods during their 4-3 win over Paraguay.

From zero to (almost) hero Costa Rica’s Sergio Ramirez experienced an emotional rollercoaster during his team’s encounter with Russia. In the 11th minute he saw his penalty saved by Aleksandr Maksimenko, only to later put Los Ticos in front with 20 minutes left – a feat only two players in the tournament’s history had previously achieved before him. However, the fact that Russia scored a late equaliser will no doubt have tempered his joy somewhat.**

The stat **5 **- Five penalties were awarded on this matchday, a tally only ever recorded once before at an U-17 World Cup: at the 1989 edition. While Probert and Ramirez both missed, South Africa’s Thendo Mukumela, Korea DPR’s Kim Wi Song and Paraguay’s Arturo Aranda made no mistake from the spot. So far 14 penalties have been given in 24 games in Chile. The record number of penalties awarded at an U-17 World Cup is, appropriately, 17, set in 2009.

The words "Maksimenko managed to save the penalty. He’s a very good goalkeeper for his age category and he has good qualities and can really save the team in such episodes," Russia coach Mikhail Galaktionov discusses his goalkeeper's strengths after he saved another penalty, having done so in the UEFA EURO U-17 quarter-final during their qualifying campaign.

Next matchday *Friday 23 October *Group A USA - Chile Croatia - Nigeria

Group B Guinea - Brazil Korea Republic - England