With six teams having qualified from the initial group stage, the Final Phase – also known as the Hexagonal – of the 2017 edition of the U-20 South American Youth Championship is now under way. The third and final game which took place on Matchday 1 saw hosts Ecuador face Brazil, as they also had done on the opening day of the tournament. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…
Ecuador 2-2 Brazil
CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 30 January 2017 (YouTube)
Due to their own carelessness, Brazil threw away a two-goal lead and could well have ended up on the wrong side of a reversal in Quito. In a ground far less full than usual for the hosts, Ecuador did actually come out of the blocks with intent and could well have been a couple of goals up in the opening several minutes themselves. However, Brazil soon dampened the home expectations when they went ahead in the 15th minute as Guilherme Arana blasted in a rebound. Ten minutes later, immediately after having a header cleared off the line, Brazil made their second bite of the cherry count as Matheus Sávio crossed low for Maycon to confidently strike home. Ecuador did respond with some chances of their own but they nevertheless went in at the break two-down and, in the 23 minutes that followed the restart, it was Brazil who looked more likely to get a third goal of the game. That is, until they conceded a completely unnecessary penalty which Renny Jaramillo stepped up to convert in the 70th minute. Subsequently, Brazil continued their implosion by gifting another ridiculous penalty and this time, in the 78th minute, it was Pervis Estupiñán who confidently dispatched it. Thus, it ended all even, though Ecuador arguably could have won it had another late penalty shout been awarded and/or another late chance converted.
Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain) had quite a game, amongst other things clearing the ball off his own goal-line, having a hand in the winning of the first penalty, clearing the ball off his own goal-line for a second time and then, finally, scoring the second penalty. Indeed, regarding his clearances, even if they were both due to him being in the right place at the right time, they nevertheless seem to be a semi-regular feature of this tournament. The first one here in the 25th minute, however, was of debatable value as though he stopped one header from trespassing over the line, barely ten seconds later, he watched on as the ball was crossed back in and knocked home for the second Brazil goal. Nevertheless, even if he was powerless here, he certainly helped his side recover in the second half. Indeed, in the 68th minute, it was his great, incisive long ball from the left which Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador) latched onto and was able to draw a wild foul from the Brazil goalkeeper Caíque to win the first penalty. For this, Renny Jaramillo (No. 14, Independiente Del Valle) stepped up and found the back of the net. Six minutes later, Estupiñán was back to contributing at his own end, clearing a Gabriel header off the line. Then, barely 30 seconds after this, Gabriel went from potential hero to actual villain by fouling Lino for a second Ecuador penalty. This time, it was Estupiñán who took on the responsibility and, with consummate coolness, put his nation on level terms with his spot-kick.
The eagle-eyed will have noted that Lino was therefore directly responsible for winning both penalties. Some fans even believe that he should have gained another for his country in the 83rd minute when he was cynically fouled by Luiz with his feet arguably just inside the area, but alas, a free-kick was instead awarded.
Returning to the first-half, Lino did cause some discomfort when a low 28th-minute cross was deflected off an opponent and had to be saved with Caíque’s outstretched leg. However, Ecuador had far better opportunities to score early on and had they done so, the game could have had a very different complexion.
Indeed, within just 15 seconds, Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle) fired in a ball from the right which goalkeeper Caíque haplessly flung himself at and missed; Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy) managed to make a connection, but his effort hit the post and then rolled along the goalmouth before a scrambled clearance just about ensured that an early Brazilian disaster was averted. However, four minutes later, Ecuador had a second good opportunity when, having moved in centrally from the left, Corozo slid a finely-weighted ball to Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec); from a slight angle on the right of the area, the latter struck a decent low shot that Caíque had to stop with his legs.
Otherwise, Ecuador had a couple of other moments of minor note, such as in the 37th minute when Lino slid but agonisingly missed a well-struck low Cabezas cross and, later in the 55th minute, a header from a Cabezas corner that was easily collected.
It was substitute Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador) who softly headed this half-chance and he was actually to have a more substantial opportunity to score at the death. Indeed, a fine, incisive midfield pass found him just inside the area but alas, with a defender on his case, he was only able to squeeze a limp effort through which the goalkeeper gratefully stopped with ease.
Perhaps it was the news that his move to Ajax has been given the green light that caused David Neres (No. 11, Ajax) to play as if he were dancing on cloud nine. Indeed, far more so than in any other match at this tournament, he displayed enormous confidence on the ball, some fancy footwork and a real keenness to shoot. He first got going in the 12th minute, when he received a pass from Lyanco (No. 4, São Paulo) on the inside-right and drove a left-footed shot with intent that the Ecuador goalkeeper Cevallos just about got his body behind. Three minutes later, he did well to evade a challenge then whack a low, powerful strike from just outside the area; Cevallos could only parry this out for Guilherme Arana (No. 6, Corinthians) to blast home the rebound to make it 1-0. Then, just a minute before half time, he marched forward, put the ball onto his left and, from a centre-left position, forced Cevallos to parry low his 25-yard drive. In the second half, there were at least several instances of his ball-skills and ability to creatively take on opponents, the most impressive of these occurring in the 62nd minute. Indeed, here he received a pass on the inside-right and then brilliantly took the ball past Cabezas into the area before striking with intent; alas, his shot went narrowly wide and he was denied a memorable goal.
Brazil’s second goal in the 25th minute came mere moments after they had almost scored and the provider of both of these opportunities was the same man, Matheus Sávio (No. 20, Flamengo). His initial corner was headed in the centre but cleared off the line before the ball found its way back to him on the right; from here, he fired in a low ball that Maycon (No. 17, Corinthians) clinically struck home.
Otherwise, aside from the 76th-minute header from Gabriel (No. 14, Avaí, soon-to-be Lille, France) that was cleared off the line, Brazil didn’t create too many other chances of note, but then again, shouldn’t really have needed to. Indeed, their inability to win was down to two clumsy challenges for the penalties, the first by goalkeeper Caíque (No. 23, Vitória) (who had several dodgy moments, which caused certain commentators to label him ‘Loco Caíque’) and the second by Gabriel (immediately after he had nearly scored). As noted, they were fortunate that the referee deemed the 83rd-minute foul of Douglas Luiz (No. 8, Vasco da Gama) to have been outside of the area, as otherwise they would have succumbed to a defeat of uniquely farcical proportions.
Otherwise, Matchday 2 of the Hexagonal will be on 2 February 2017 and the games shall be Colombia vs Argentina, Uruguay vs Brazil and Ecuador vs Venezuela – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com.
To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.