Nigeria, Korea advance on day of firsts

Tuesday signalled the beginning of the second round of group-stage matches of the Fifa U-17 World Cup Chile 2015, from which Nigeria and Korea Republic emerged as the first qualifiers for the knockout stages. It was a day of breakthrough achievements all round, such as the first goal from a free-kick and the fastest goal of the tournament so far. FIFA.com looks back on an eventful set of matches.

USA and Croatia served up the day’s most entertaining encounter, a 2-2 draw that had fans on the edge of their seats but that left neither party satisfied in the cold light of day.

Although the Stars and Stripes, inspired by an excellent Christian Pulisic, who scored the first goal and then set up the second, appeared to have things wrapped up by half-time, the Croatians fought their way back into the match after the break. The Balkan side even had chances to snatch a winner, but instead struck the woodwork on several occasions.

In Group A’s other match, hosts Chile were no match for an impressive Nigeria, who struck twice in the early stages at the Estadio de Sausalito. The Africans then continued to press, eventually running out 5-1 winners versus a Chilean team that, despite tremendous support from the home crowd, struggled to compete with the defending champions.

In Group B, a flash of set-piece genius from Leandro sealed a 1-0 victory for Brazil and provided the South Americans with their first points of the tournament, versus an England XI that created worthwhile opportunities but lacked a killer instinct in front of goal.

Korea Republic, meanwhile, left it extremely late against a profligate Guinea, advancing to the Round of 16 courtesy of a stoppage-time strike from Oh Sehun.

Results
USA 2-2 Croatia (Group A)
England 0-1 Brazil (Group B)
Chile 1-5 Nigeria (Group A)
Korea Republic 1-0 Guinea (Group B)

Goal of the day
England 0-1 Brazil, Leandro (67)

A Canarinha had waited a total of 156 minutes to hit the back of the net at Chile 2015, and when it finally came it was well worth it, as Leandro’s goal was as pleasing on the eye as it was crucial for his nation’s hopes of progressing in the tournament.

In what was the first successfully executed free-kick of the competition thus far, the Brazilian striker floated a fine effort over the wall, off the left-hand post and into the net past the despairing dive of English goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman.

Memorable moments
A tale of two triumphs

Although Nigeria and Korea Republic were both able to celebrate qualifying for the next round at the end of their respective 90 minutes, the paths they took to get there were considerably different. While the Golden Eaglets made short work of Chile, who fought hard but could not contain their powerful opponents, the young Taeguk Warriors had to wait until practically the last kick of the ball to book their place in the Round of 16. In both cases, however, there was an explosion of joy as soon as the final whistle sounded, with Nigerian ’keeper Akpan Udoh demonstrating his delight by lifting the referee up into the air.

Perfectly placed posts

The Croatians will likely be cursing their luck this evening, having struck the woodwork no fewer than three times in the second half of their keenly fought clash with USA. The last two shots came one after the other, in what was the last Croatian attack of the match. First Josip Brekalo hit a low shot past the outstretched arm of Will Pulisic onto the base of the right-hand post, and then team-mate Davor Lovren produced a fine piece of skill to curl the ball against the crossbar. Much to the Croatians’ disbelief, the game finished with both teams sharing the spoils.

Going wild

With barely an hour to go before the kick-off of their match with Brazil, England’s players stepped out onto the pitch at the Estadio La Portada in La Serena for a traditional pre-match stroll. All of the players then headed back to the changing rooms a few minutes later, with the exception of substitutes Tom Davies, Cameron Humphreys and Marcus Wood. Wood suddenly crouched down by the centre circle to study a butterfly that had got stuck in the fresh paint used to mark the lines on the pitch, and in a gesture appreciated by insect lovers all over the world, he picked it up and rescued it from a sticky fate.

The stat

25 – The number of seconds it took for Nigeria to get on the scoreboard against host nation Chile. In fact, Samuel Chukwueze struck so quickly that many fans were still taking their seats. It was the fastest goal of Chile 2015 to date, and the third fastest in the history of the U-17 event, behind the efforts by the Brazilian pair of Fabinho (nine seconds in 2007) and Celso (14 seconds in 2005).

The words

“Leandro was frustrated, as he was the best scorer during qualification. It was his first goal today, and I hope it’s the first of many for him during that World Cup. He was nervous before this game because he was not happy about his performance against Korea. And I can tell you he’s not the only excellent free-kick taker in the team.” Brazil coach, Carlos Nascimento

Next matchday
Wednesday 21 October
Australia-Mexico (Group C)
Belgium-Honduras (Group D)
Argentina-Germany (Group C)
Ecuador-Mali (Group D)

© FIFA.com

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