The first game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 4 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw hosts Ecuador face Colombia. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…
Ecuador 3-0 Colombia
CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 8 February 2017 (YouTube)
Colombia’s already slim World Cup qualification hopes were killed off as Ecuador greatly increased theirs following this comfortable victory. The hosts had little to fear from their unambitious opponents and swatted them aside with three second-half goals. The first of these came five minutes after the restart when Bryan Cabezas was played into the area on the left and did well to strike home low. The second goal occurred soon after Colombia had a shot saved in the 63rd minute; this time, a free-kick into the area was poorly dealt with by a defender and Jordy Caicedo was on hand to clinically double the lead. The third and final goal arrived with seven minutes to go when a fine through-ball on the left led to Cabezas roaming into the area and placing a shot past the goalkeeper. Ecuador now go into their final match on Saturday with Uruguay knowing that a win, coupled with the result of the Argentina-Venezuela game going their way, would see them win the tournament.
Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy) again led the Ecuadorian attack and was ultimately rewarded with two goals. Even before he had got onto the scoresheet, he had already caused a couple of problems for the opposition back-line, firstly in the 18th minute when he ran onto a through-ball on the left in the area and, though offside, poked a shot goalwards. 17 minutes later, he had a better opportunity from a similar position when Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador) played an incisive ball through and he whistled a left-footed strike just wide of the far post. However, it was in the 50th minute that he was able to make the breakthrough, when he latched onto a pass from Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin) in an identical position on the left inside the area and drilled a low left-footed strike past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0. Later on in the 83rd minute, he wrapped up the victory when Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain) – who was again a regular attacking threat – perfectly timed his pass to Cabezas in his trusty position on the left in the area, from where he slid home to make it 3-0. Following these goals, Cabezas now finds himself as the tournament’s joint top-scorer, along with Uruguay’s Rodrigo Amaral and Argentina’s Marcelo Torres, with five goals.
The second goal that divided Cabezas’ strikes was netted by Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador) for his third of the tournament. Previously, he had a low shot on the turn easily saved in the 36th minute before coming much closer to scoring some four minutes later. Indeed, Wilter Ayoví (No. 8, Independiente Del Valle) – who earlier had a tame shot of his own saved – did well to take the ball past a defender and into the area on the right, from where he slid in a low cross that Cabezas went for but which instead found its way to Caicedo; however, his shot was deflected and bobbled wide for a corner. Caicedo’s goal instead came along in the 63rd minute, when a free-kick from the right was swung in and a dreadful error by a defender allowed the ball through to the Ecuador striker who pounced to swing home a low strike.
For the second consecutive game, there were very few positives to be said about Colombia, who have limply surrendered their chance to play at the U-20 World Cup, a tournament at which two years prior they reached the Round of 16.
Here, their star of the past few weeks, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain), had two minor moments that, admittedly, are barely worthy of a mention. The first occurred just before half time when, probably frustrated on the left edge of the area, he turned and chipped a right-footed effort that was very comfortable for the goalkeeper. The second came just two minutes after the restart when a throw found him on the right inside the area and he put the ball onto his left foot but hit his shot comfortably wide.
Otherwise, in the 62nd minute, just before Ecuador doubled their lead, Julián Quiñones (No. 7, Tigres, Mexico) picked up the ball and struck from about 30 yards; it was a good left-footed effort from a central position, though the goalkeeper got down to parry it out. Also, with virtually the last kick of the game, Quiñones put in a corner that Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) managed to head but it was easily blocked a second or so before the final whistle brought down the curtains on Colombia’s aspirations.
Otherwise, the fifth and final Matchday of the Hexagonal will be on 11 February 2017 and the games shall be Argentina vs Venezuela, Colombia vs Brazil and Ecuador vs Uruguay – expect to see one last 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.