The third game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 2 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw hosts Ecuador play Venezuela. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…
Ecuador 2-4 Venezuela
CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 2 February 2017 (YouTube)
Gaining their first victory of the tournament, Venezuela burst through the floodgates and humbled hosts Ecuador in a very convincing display. In a rather quiet first half, Yangel Herrera opened the scoring in the 40th minute with a fine, if deflected, effort. Half time produced a surprise all-consuming patch of fog, which threatened to halt the game, but thankfully it did not come to that, even if the hosts were soon hoping that the match would be called off. Indeed, within 19 minutes of the restart, they were 4-0 down as, firstly, Yeferson Soteldo converted a penalty in the 53rd minute, then three minutes later Ronaldo Chacón collected Soteldo’s deflected shot and blasted home for the third; lastly, in the 64th minute, Sergio Córdova received Soteldo’s pass and comfortably struck home for the fourth. Late on, Ecuador, who barely managed a shot from open play in the entire game, were able to paper over the scoreline somewhat, with two penalties converted by, first, Pervis Estupiñán in the 88th minute and then, seven minutes into stoppage-time, Bryan Cabezas. Despite this, the match was Venezuela’s and they can now consider World Cup qualification a serious possibility.
The hosts got forward in the first half but were always thwarted by the opposition defence, who did not allow them to play with their characteristic verve and bustle; consequently, they had no attacking moments worth recollecting. The second half was little better, as they only managed to cause minor inroads when Venezuela were already thumping them 4-0; for example, in the 76th minute when substitute Wilter Ayoví (No. 8, Independiente Del Valle) forced a low parry from his 25-yard right-footed blast. Ecuador may have underestimated their opposition or simply been worn down by the competition as they were barely in this game; they can count themselves very fortunate that they were gifted two soft penalties – scored by Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain) and Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy) – to at least improve their goal difference.
Though Yeferson Soteldo (No. 10, Huachipato, Chile) may have had some involvement with all four goals, it was nevertheless a fine team performance from Venezuela, as they finally burst out of their shell to not only win, but win handsomely. Before they opened the scoring, the first half had been a rather quiet affair as the Venezuelan defence had done a fine job frustrating and neutering the Ecuadorian attack. Venezuela did not get forward a great deal themselves, however, with their best attempt perhaps coming from a 22nd-minute corner curled in by Soteldo which Ronaldo Chacón (No. 11, Caracas FC) headed at the near post into the side-netting.
Nevertheless, in the 40th minute, they well and truly got the ball rolling. Just outside of the right corner of the area, Yangel Herrera (No. 8, Manchester City) received a short pass from Soteldo and then curled a sublime effort over the goalkeeper to give Venezuela the lead – a dozen replays later and it’s still unclear how many of his compatriots watching on are willing to admit that it took a hefty deflection. Into the foggy second half, Ronaldo Peña (No. 9, Las Palmas, Spain) won a penalty eight minutes after the restart and Soteldo stepped up, perhaps doing the sensible thing in the conditions, by simply striking it down the middle to make it 2-0. Barely three minutes later in the 56th minute, Soteldo’s shot was deflected into the path of Chacón, who struck home a fine left-footed effort for his first goal of the tournament. Eight minutes later, Soteldo did some nice work on the left of the area before sliding it over to Sergio Córdova (No. 23, Caracas FC) who also scored his first goal of the tournament with a low, left-footed shot that seemed to wrongfoot the goalkeeper.
Other than the goals, Venezuela didn’t have a great deal of other chances but then, they didn’t need them. In the 19 opening minutes of the second half they blitzed the hosts on their own soil, leading the Venezuelans in attendance to Olé every pass, with their team appearing to have very much arrived as credible contenders at the tournament. In stoppage-time, the fans also began singing their country’s national anthem, ‘Gloria Al Bravo Pueblo’.
However, it was nevertheless disappointing that they managed to give away two unnecessary penalties. The second one was a careless handball from a corner but the first was due to goalkeeper Wuilker Fariñez (No. 1, Caracas FC) somewhat recklessly colliding with an opponent over a long ball. It’s the second game in a row that the much-acclaimed youngster has given away a penalty and he has now also conceded all three that he has faced in these two Hexagonal games. Given that his tournament began with a notable spot-kick save against Uruguay, one can not help but feel that he is gradually losing some of his lustre.
That said, though it must have been annoying for he and his compatriots to have their goal difference eaten into late on, they have still only conceded four goals in six games – the joint-best in the competition, with Uruguay. Furthermore, things can’t be too bad sitting second in the Hexagonal table with four points from a possible six – expectations, naturally, will have increased.
Otherwise, Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal will be on 5 February 2017 and the games shall be Brazil vs Venezuela, Uruguay vs Colombia and Ecuador vs Argentina – 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.