The first game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 3 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Brazil play Venezuela. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…
Brazil 1-0 Venezuela
CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 5 February 2017 (YouTube)
A game that was heading towards a 0-0 draw was enlivened by a last-minute golazo and some subsequent, contentious events. Indeed, it was a somewhat lethargic game of few chances, with the closest to a goal in the first half being Brazil’s Richarlison heading a 19th-minute corner onto the crossbar. In the second period, it was Venezuela’s turn to hit the woodwork, as Yangel Herrera struck a low 30-yard effort in the 68th minute against the post. However, with a goalless draw long seeming likely, Felipe Vizeu had other ideas as he picked up the ball and then thunderously struck home into the top corner from 25 yards out. It was a great goal, though some claim there was a foul in the build-up and not long afterwards, tempers began to flare. Indeed, Brazil’s David Neres clearly punched Josua Mejías, though this went unpunished with instead Venezuela’s Heber García soon receiving his marching orders. After the final whistle, presumably for his protestations, left-back Eduin Quero was also given a red card and manager Rafael Dudamel was seen fuming, as the match officials required protection from the heavily-shielded police.
Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) won Brazil the game with an 89th-minute golazo. Centrally, he gained space from Herrera (by illegal means, according to Tim Vickery) before lashing the ball into the top corner from 25 yards. Previously in the 80th minute, Vizeu had managed to squeeze in a low shot that was comfortably saved and in the 55th minute, he chased a good through-ball from the inside-left, though the goalkeeper got out just about in time to clear.
The person who came close to playing him in here was Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense), who had Brazil’s best other chance, heading the 19th-minute corner of Matheus Sávio (No. 20, Flamengo) straight against the bar.
Otherwise, the game was hardly choc-a-bloc with chances, with the best other two opportunities Brazil could muster barely worthy of a mention: After 23 minutes, a left-sided cross found Gabriel (No. 14, Lille, France) but his header went hopelessly wide and in the 65th minute, a free-kick from Maycon (No. 17, Corinthians) went over the wall but also safely into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Lastly, David Neres (No. 11, Ajax) was less of a jinking, attacking threat in this game, with his most memorable contribution instead being a late punch that gave Josua Mejías a nosebleed. This went unpunished, with Venezuelans instead soon getting in trouble with the referee, though one wonders what Neres’ new owners Ajax made of this behaviour from their €15 million acquisition.
Venezuela were perhaps also suffering from some mid-Hexagonal fatigue, though their defence maintained their impressive form and they had looked on course for a very useful point that would have bolstered their qualification hopes for the Under-20 World Cup.
Though neither gave vintage performances, Yeferson Soteldo (No. 10, Huachipato, Chile) and Yangel Herrera (No. 8, Manchester City) again showed glimpses of why they are Venezuela’s most highly-rated outfield players. However, as nobody really stood head and shoulders above their team-mates, what follows instead is a list of their team’s best chances:
After five minutes, Soteldo curled in a free-kick from the right that Herrera glanced a header from, though this went straight to the goalkeeper. A couple of minutes later, Soteldo did well on the left to gain some space before sliding a good ball over to the right inside the area; from here, Sergio Córdova (No. 23, Caracas FC) struck a low effort that deflected to the goalkeeper. Seven minutes later, Ronaldo Peña (No. 9, Las Palmas, Spain) impressively beat Gabriel for pace on the right, before rolling the ball to Ronaldo Chacón (No. 11, Caracas FC); from a central position, side-on from the goal, he struck a decent shot, though it was directly at the goalkeeper. Much later in the 68th minute came Venezuela’s best chance when Herrera picked up the ball some 30 yards out and struck a fine, low, right-footed effort that hit the base of the post before rolling across the goalmouth. Lastly, in the fifth minute of stoppage-time, the boys in burgundy had one last throw of the dice when Soteldo’s free-kick was headed out to a central position 30 yards out; from here, right-back Ronald Hernández (No. 20, Zamora FC) struck a low, testing drive with the outside of his right boot which only went about a yard wide.
Alas, they could not find a way through and succumbed to their first defeat of the tournament. As much as they were right to feel aggrieved about some refereeing decisions, one wonders if the looming first loss also caused some tempers to boil and led to the red cards to Heber García (No. 14, Sud América, Uruguay) and Eduin Quero (No. 3, Deportivo Táchira) – not to mention the post-match fury of manager Rafael Dudamel.
Otherwise, Matchday 4 of the Hexagonal will be on 8 February 2017 and the games shall be Ecuador vs Colombia, Uruguay vs Venezuela and Brazil 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.