Venezuela’s third and final Group B game of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup saw them defeat Mexico and thus qualify for the knock-out stage with an unblemished record of three wins and just as many clean sheets. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the match and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-tracking…
(Source: Wikipedia – Check here for all other results, fixtures and standings)
Mexico 0-1 Venezuela
2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Group B, 26 May 2017 (YouTube)
A solitary goal was all that was needed for the already-qualified Venezuela to see off Mexico, who will also be joining them in the next phase.
Perhaps it was due to their promising pre-game positions combined with the toll of playing three matches in seven days, but overall there was less intent on offer from either side, with clear chances far and few between. Indeed, though they both had some shots to contend with, neither goalkeeper was greatly troubled for the majority of the encounter. Nevertheless, the Mexican rearguard only needed to be breached once and this occurred in the 33rd minute. Here, the impressive Adalberto Peñaranda dinked a central ball into the area for Sergio Córdova, who showed impressive composure to round the goalkeeper and deceive a defender on the line with his finish.
Following the final whistle, with an enviable collection of results to bolster their confidence, this remarkable generation of Venezuelans will now surely believe that anything is impossible.
After a difficult season loaned out yet largely unwanted in both Serie A and La Liga, Adalberto Peñaranda (No. 7, Málaga, on loan from Watford) seems to have regained some much-needed mojo. In this game his main contribution was the fine ball he played forward from 30 yards out for the goal, though he also received considerable social media acclaim for a piece of elite showboating in the early stages of the second half. To the naysayers who have used this truncated instance of fancy dannery to lambast him for having “no end product”: not only does he now have a goal and three assists to his name in this tournament but, following his trickery, his nudged ball to Ronaldo Peña (No. 9, Las Palmas Atlético) – who later saw a well-struck 30-yard strike parried – led to the latter winning a corner off the goalkeeper. Yours truly is failing to restrain himself from adding “So there”.
Such is his importance to this side that, for the third consecutive game, manager Rafael Dudamel brought him off early to conserve some energy. He was later joined on the bench with his team’s other attacking star of the group stage, Sergio Córdova (No. 19, Caracas FC). However, whilst the right-sided forward appeared to depart with some discomfort, judging by his upbeat expression from the sidelines, it can’t be too serious. In this match, he regained his place as the tournament’s outright topscorer when he masterfully controlled Peñaranda’s pass, before holding off a defender, delicately rounding the goalkeeper and then, rather suavely, fooling another opponent on the line who had to watch on in agony as the rolling ball passed him by. Soon afterwards, Córdova had a shot parried from the edge of the area and, providing the knock was nothing too troubling, he should have more than a few future opportunities like this to help him increase his tally of four goals in three games.
Otherwise, though they had a few mild scares, Venezuela largely impressed by keeping another clean sheet. The back four as well as the two holding mifielders, Yangel Herrera (No. 8, New York City FC, on loan from Manchester City) and Ronaldo Lucena (No. 16, Zamora FC) did their respective jobs with a minimum of fuss. From an attacking perspective, Herrera was also involved in two forward moments of note. First, in the 28th minute, he did well to run into the area and then slide the ball across to Yeferson Soteldo (No. 10, Huachipato, Chile), though the ex-Zamora man hit it from a slightly awkward position with his less fancied right boot and thus had to watch the ball go wide of the mark. Much later on in the 71st minute, Herrera actually had a rather good chance to score himself when Lucena dinked a fine free-kick into the area yet, unmarked from barely ten yards out, the MLS starlet headed the ball much too close to the goalkeeper.
Never mind. He can be comforted by the knowledge that his side’s record speaks for itself and, with the performances they have been putting in, it does currently feel as if few other teams will relish having to play them in the remainder of this tournament. Though their opponents in the Round of 16 are yet unknown, what can be said for sure is that the game will take place on Tuesday 30 May 2017. Should they emerge victorious from this encounter, they will surpass the accomplishment of the class of 2009 and well and truly write themselves into their nation’s ever more-storied footballing history.
In the other Group B game played today, Vanuatu were defeated 3-2 by Germany, yet the third-placed Europeans will have to wait for the time being to see if they will be joining Venezuela and Mexico in the latter stages.
To keep up-to-date with the latest news on the South American nations at South Korea 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter and check back to Hispanospherical.com for match-by-match talent-tracking articles.