*THE DAY REPLAYED: *Spectators were treated to a wealth of spectacular goals and enthralling action on the first day of the Girls' Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014. In Group A, Venezuela overpowered Papua New Guinea to prove just why they are so hotly tipped to take home a medal.
Hosts China PR also made a successful start to the tournament, reinforcing their own ambitions with an assured win over Mexico in the opening match of Group B.
*The results *
*Group A *
*Papua New Guinea 0-7 Venezuela (0-2) *
Despite pressing their opponents from the outset, the South Americans were unable to convert the numerous chances they created in the game’s opening stages against a committed Oceanic side. Deyna Castellanos eventually opened the scoring for the *Vinotintos *with a thunderous shot in the 19th minute before doubling her team’s lead shortly before half-time.
After the change of ends, Kenneth Zseremeta’s team increased the pressure further and weighed in with another five goals, including an impressive long-range effort from Nathalie Pasquel. Only the woodwork and a series of remarkable saves from goalkeeper Eileen Daviaga prevented Venezuela from enjoying an even greater margin of victory.
* *China PR 2-0 Mexico (2-0) *
Expectations were high among Chinese fans ahead of their team’s first match, and they will not have been left disappointed. Coach Lu Yiliang’s intense preparations clearly paid off as the hosts delivered a technically and tactically adept performance from the very start. After some spectacular build-up play from Jin Kun, captain Zhao Yujie netted a much-celebrated opening goal in the tenth minute. Twenty-five minutes later, the player who provided the assist for the first strike put her own name on the scoresheet.
In the second half, the Asian side remained threatening despite slowing the pace of their play. Ma Xiaolan was unlucky when her crisp strike hit the underside of the crossbar only for alert Mexico goalkeeper Kelsey Brann to gather up the rebound. The North American side tried to at least reduce the deficit, but were repeatedly caught in possession in midfield and now face added pressure going into their next match against Namibia.
Memorable moments *Staying in perfect time *
Venezuela’s players were not the only figures who appeared to have found their rhythm at the Wutaishan Stadium; Lele, the Official Mascot of the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing was in an extremely lively mood. Several lifesize versions of the colourful creature danced enthusiastically to Chinese pop music during the half-time break before spontaneously joining the young South Americans as they celebrated after the final whistle in front of fans who had travelled from home to support them.
*Goalkeeper standing tall
*The Chinese were so delighted to score their first tournament goal that goalkeeper Xu Huan even sprinted the full length of the field to celebrate with her team-mates deep in their opponents’ half. The keeper was easy enough to spot among her red-kitted team-mates, not only because of her neon green shirt but because she is an impressive 1.78 metres, making her the tallest player at this year’s Girls' Youth Olympic Football Tournament.
The stat 4 – Deyna Castellanos has already proven her quality in impressive style by winning the adidas Golden Boot at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014. The striker reached another historic landmark against Papua New Guinea by becoming the first player in the competition’s history to score four goals in a single game.
*Next up *Group A
Venezuela - Slovakia, Wutaishan Stadium, Sunday 17 August, 18:00 local time * *
*Mexico - Namibia, Wutaishan Stadium, Sunday 17 August, 20:45 local time * *