Vina vintage and captain-led comebacks

THE DAY REPLAYED – Brazil and Croatia joined Korea Republic and Nigeria in the Round of 16, with hosts Chile facing an anxious wait to see the ranking of third-placed sides finalised on Sunday.

The day opened with a pair of Group B games, with Coquimbo hosting a tense goalless draw between Korea Republic and England which saw the Asian side confirmed as the pool’s champions, while Brazil saw off Guinea 3-1, despite going down to ten men for the second time in three matches. Lincoln and Leandro scored and assisted for each other in the opening period, before Arthur made A Seleção’s progress to the knockout stages certain despite Lincoln seeing red in the closing stages of the first half. Morlaye Sylla’s goal for the Africans was to be their final action in Chile, bidding farewell to the tournament with just their opening point against England to show for their efforts.

Group A saw two sides turn games on their head to win their first match at Chile 2015, with their No10 captains influential in proceedings. The hosts ended up in third, with Marcelo Allende’s first half goal spurring his side on to victory in Vina Del Mar after Brandon Vazquez had put the Stars and Stripes, who head home following their defeat, ahead. Nikola Moro was the inspiration for Croatia’s victory against group winners Nigeria in Coquimbo, the Dinamo Zagreb schemer setting up both goals in their 2-1 come-from-behind victory which sealed their progress to the knockout stages for the first time.

Results *Group A *USA 1-4 Chile Croatia 2-1 Nigeria

Group B Guinea 1-3 Brazil Korea Republic 0-0 England

Goal of the day *USA 1-3 Chile, Gonzalo Jara (86) *With both Chile and USA exchanging chances in the closing stages of their Group A clash with the score 2-1 in favour of the hosts, Jara created a huge release of tension in Vina Del Mar. The substitute cut inside onto his left foot, just outside the USA penalty area and curled a majestic effort into the top corner, past the despairing dive of Stars and Stripes stopper Will Pusilic.

Memorable moments *Brazil victorious in Vina once more Estadio Sausalito is a charmed venue for the Canarinha*, with the three points secured by the U-17 side today adding to the senior side’s unbeaten run at the venue at the 1962 FIFA World Cup™. In total, Brazil spent the group stages in Vina Del Mar and won three games there in their run to a second global crown. Their young ancestors, all of whom were born almost four decades after the 1962 finals, received a warm welcome by the Sausalito crowd, and will be back for their Round of 16 clash.

Allende arrives Chile’s captain stepped up to the mark with his team in desperate need of some inspiration. With the USA in the ascendency, and the Sausalito crowd urging the hosts forward, a snapshot by Allende was blocked inside the USA penalty area. Quick as a flash, the diminutive skipper latched onto the rebound and slammed home a deflected effort. The tide was turned, Vina Del Mar believed and the hosts went on to grab their first win of the finals.

Moro, or Modric? It was the Croatian No10, and captain, who was pivotal to his side’s turnaround in Coquimbo at the same time Allende was pulling the strings in Vina. Moro waved his magic wand of a right foot to conjure up two assists after the Nigerians seemed set to power to a third consecutive victory. His languid, yet ruthlessly efficient style of play certainly elicits a likeness to the senior team’s playmaking counterpart.

The stat 7 – Nigeria could not set a new record for consecutive victories at the U-17 global finals due to their defeat to Croatia. Their run of seven wins in a row sees them level with Brazil (1997-1999), Mexico (2011) and Switzerland (2009).

The words “It’s always special to have another game at the same time that impacts your destiny. Now we will have to wait and pray that the gods of football will be with us,” Neil Dewsnip, England coach, who admitted his staff were keeping one eye on the Brazil-Guinea clash in Vina Del Mar while his side faced Korea Republic.

Next matchday *Saturday 24 October *Group C Argentina – Australia Germany - Mexico

Group D Mali – Honduras Ecuador - Belgium