Tag Archives: Bryan Cabezas

Ecuador 1-2 Uruguay (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 5, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 11 February 2017)

The final game which took place on the last Hexagonal Matchday of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw hosts Ecuador face Uruguay in a battle for the title. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

hexagonalendddd

(Source: Wikipedia)

Ecuador 1-2 Uruguay

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 11 February 2017 (YouTube)

In this title-deciding encounter, Uruguay were out the traps early and with relative comfort ultimately went on to clinch the championship by an impressive five points. They were gifted the lead after a mere five minutes when Ecuador defender Luis Segovia suicidally passed the ball inside his own area to Joaquín Ardaiz who gratefully tucked it away. Twenty minutes later Ardaiz virtually sealed the competition for Uruguay when he received a long ball and clinically struck it home. Now requiring three goals, though Ecuador did get forward they never really looked like realistically pulling off the comeback; they did nevertheless halve the deficit in the 66th minute when Herlin Lino managed to knock a forward ball past the goalkeeper. Ultimately however, it was Uruguay’s day and tournament; though it was a topsy-turvy 25 days and even Uruguay gave observers reasons to doubt them, they came through and can deservedly be called the best Under-20 nation in South America.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

They were outsiders to win the title and any game plan they had went out the window as soon as Luis Segovia (No. 21, El Nacional) gifted Uruguay their opening goal within five minutes. Going two behind after 26 minutes all but ensured the destination of the trophy though, to their minor credit, Ecuador did at least try to threaten the opposition defence throughout the game.

Indeed, unsurprisingly top-scorer Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy) could be a threat, particularly early on. In the 13th minute he managed to gain some space and get a shot away from the edge of the area, which the Uruguayan goalkeeper uncomfortably spilt. Ecuador have several quality attack-minded players and so some have been afforded more opportunities than others in this tournament but here Wilter Ayoví (No. 8, Independiente Del Valle) caught the eye, coming close to scoring twice. Indeed, in the 19th minute he swung in a free-kick with his right boot from the left near the byline which had to be blocked out at the near post. Then, more notably three minutes later, he did well to capitalise on an error then twist and turn his way past two players before firing a shot from inside the area that was deflected just over for a corner. Into the second half, Ecuador did manage to provide a glimmer of hope for their fans when in the 66th minute a long ball from right-back Kevin Minda (No. 4, L.D.U. Quito) was deftly touched by Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador) through the legs of the onrushing goalkeeper to make it 2-1. However, despite this, they struggled to put Uruguay under much more pressure, with an 82nd-minute free-kick from substitute Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec) that went hopelessly over being the closest they came to another goal.

Alas, the scoreline remained the same and Uruguay were crowned champions. Nevertheless, Ecuadorians can come away with much pride that they not only hosted an often exciting tournament but that their team was often the most entertaining side on show, managing to finish a very credible second and will be going to South Korea in May.

uruguayflag Uruguay

Though Ecuador never entirely gave up, Uruguay had effectively killed off the game within the opening half-hour. Indeed, they showed strength in depth by dropping at least a couple of their most impressive players and it was one of the stand-ins who was to score both of their goals. Indeed, Joaquín Ardaiz (No. 7, Danubio) took advantage of a hopeless defensive error in the fifth minute, before shielding the ball from another defender and then sliding home from inside the area. His second came in the 26th minute when Nicolás De La Cruz (No. 11, Liverpool, Uruguay), arguably the most consistent top performer in the tournament, dinked a ball over a defender which Ardaiz confidently finished off.

Otherwise, Uruguay had a couple of other minor chances in the first half but it was after Ecuador pulled a goal back in the second period that they really further tested the opposition goalkeeper. Indeed, in the 69th minute, perhaps the most naturally talented player in the competition, Rodrigo Amaral (No. 10, Nacional, Uruguay), came off the bench and two minutes later had an opportunity to win the golden boot outright. Alas, though he curled this centrally placed free-kick well with his left peg, it ultimately went slightly wide; thus, after the game he had to share the top-scorer’s trophy with three other players who also scored five goals: Ecuador’s Bryan Cabezas and Argentina’s Marcelo Torres and Lautaro Martínez. Five minutes after Amaral’s free-kick, another set-piece was well-struck from the middle of the park; this time it was De La Cruz over the ball and he did well to curl a right-footed effort which had to be parried out.

Nevertheless, though they didn’t build on their early lead, they didn’t really need to, with the likes of Agustín Rogel (No. 18, Nacional) at the back instead largely effectively frustrating and hassling opponents off the ball.

When the final whistle blew, the Uruguayan joy was palpable as they won their first South American Under-20 tournament since 1981 (their eighth overall) and kept up a very impressive recent youth record. For many fans, this will have gone some way to making up for the narrow defeat suffered in the decisive final game by a similarly outstanding side to Argentina on home soil two years ago in front of over 65,000 people. Now, this generation of players from this small over-achieving nation shall go with Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina to the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea in May with a spring in their collective step, no doubt believing that they can yet again upset the odds – and this time on a much grander scale.

The two other games played on the fifth and final Hexagonal Matchday were Argentina vs Venezuela and Colombia vs Brazil – talent-spotting articles have already been published for these two matches.  

Otherwise, to keep track with the careers of these and many other talented South Americans, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Ecuador 3-0 Colombia (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 4, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 8 February 2017)

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… 

hexagonal8217

(Source: Wikipedia)

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.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

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.

colombia Colombia

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.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 4 were Uruguay vs Venezuela and Brazil vs Argentina – talent-spotting articles have also been published for these matches.

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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Ecuador 3-0 Argentina (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 3, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 5 February 2017)

The final game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 3 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw hosts Ecuador face holders Argentina. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

group5217

(Source: Wikipedia)

Ecuador 3-0 Argentina

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 5 February 2017 (YouTube)

Argentina put in a woeful performance as they were comfortably trounced by hosts Ecuador, who got themselves back into the hunt for World Cup qualification. Indeed, Ecuador dominated the chances, with their first goal coming after 40 minutes, when Pervis Estupiñán struck home a penalty. They doubled their lead in the 58th minute when Bryan Cabezas slid the ball across the goalmouth where it was knocked in at the back post by Jordy Caicedo. The third and final goal came five minutes later when Cabezas dispossessed and bustled his way past a defender on the left in the area before squeezing home a finish.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain) stepped up to convert his 40th-minute penalty down the middle with consummate ease – this was his third successful spot-kick in consecutive games and the left-back now has a remarkable four goals altogether in the tournament.

He also had a hand in the second goal after 58 minutes when he slid the ball on the left to  Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy); he, in turn, knocked a low ball across the goalmouth where it was tapped in by Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador) at the back post. For the third goal some five minutes later, right-back Kevin Minda (No. 4, L.D.U. Quito) played a long diagonal ball which Cabezas quickly mugged a defender of before knocking past the goalkeeper. Cabezas, in particular, impressed with his goal and assist and he also had Ecuador’s first two chances of the game. Indeed, in the third minute on the left in the area, he knocked a ball that bounced back to him so, instinctively, he whacked a strike from an angle, but it was always rising and went over. Then, four minutes later at the corner of the area on the left, he struck a shot that was hit with the pace of a cross but nevertheless forced the goalkeeper to first parry, then gather.

Otherwise, Ecuador had the lion’s share of the chances, including the following:

In the 15th minute, Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador) whacked a strike from the right just outside of the area, but it went over. Four minutes later, Caicedo chased a long ball up the right into the area, though his shot from a slightly awkward angle was easily saved. The following minute from just outside of the left corner of the area, Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin) hit a well-paced right-footed strike that was parried low at the near post. Seven minutes later, Sierra curled in a good cross from the right and Lino rose high, coming extremely close to the target but his header bounced inches wide of the post. Much later on in 52nd minute, Ecuador’s other chance of note occurred when Caicedo came bustling forward, played a one-two and then hit a right-footed dipping effort from 30 yards which went just a yard or two over.

argentinaflag Argentina

Los Pibes barely had an opportunity worth speaking of, with most of their attempts on the Ecuador goal coming from long distance. Indeed, in the 7th minute, right-back Nicolás Zalazar (No. 14, San Lorenzo) struck with the outside of his right boot from 30 yards, though this ultimately dipped rather harmlessly for the goalkeeper to catch. 11 minutes later, some 25-30 yards out from a free-kick on the left, one of Argentina’s more impressive players in the tournament, Tomás Conechny (No. 20, San Lorenzo), hit his effort just a yard or so over the bar. Then in the 31st minute, defender Cristian Romero (No. 2, Belgrano) intercepted a ball before shooting from 30 yards on the inside-right, but this went to the goalkeeper.

Otherwise, the only other half-chance of note came in the 65th minute when Lautaro Martínez (No. 9, Racing Club) took on two or three players from the right before making it into the area; he tried to strike an effort with his left boot but, owing to pressure from a defender, ended up hitting this shot wide of the mark.

The pickings really were that slim for Argentina and while their penultimate game against Brazil may not technically be a must-win game, with just three points from a possible nine, it will certainly be treated that way in order to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 3 were Brazil vs Venezuela and Uruguay vs Colombia – talent-spotting articles have already been published for these matches.

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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Ecuador 2-4 Venezuela (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 2, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 2 February 2017)

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… 

groupstage020217

(Source: Wikipedia)

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.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

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.

venezuelaflag Venezuela

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.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 2 were Colombia vs Argentina and Uruguay vs Brazil – talent-spotting articles for both matches have already been published.

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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Ecuador 2-2 Brazil (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 1, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 30 January 2017)

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… 

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(Source: Wikipedia)

 

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.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

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.

brazilflag Brazil

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.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 1 were Colombia vs Venezuela and Uruguay vs Argentina – talent-spotting articles have been published for both of these games. 

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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Day 9 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Colombia 1-0 Chile & Ecuador 2-1 Paraguay)

On the ninth day of the 2017 edition of the prestigious U-20 South American Youth Championship, attention turned to the final matches from Group A, with Colombia taking on Chile and hosts Ecuador facing Paraguay. Below are video highlights, brief summaries of each game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…

groupa26117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 1-0 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 26 January 2017 (YouTube)

Chile certainly exhibited more attacking initiative than in previous games, but unfortunately for them, they were unable to find the back of the Colombian net and thus it is instead their opponents who are through to the Hexagonal. Indeed, La Rojita were put on the back foot early on when a few of their defenders stood off Ever Valencia, who waltzed through centrally before placing a low shot home for the lead. Chile nevertheless responded and were to come forward with increasing levels of urgency, with Jeisson Vargas and Francisco Sierralta in particular driving their side on. It was the latter who actually hit the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining and shortly after, team-mate Ignacio Jara was to miss what was Chile’s best opportunity: virtually an open goal in front of which he squandered a low header. All that being said, they needed to win not draw and Colombia never lost the ability to get forward, nearly getting the game’s second goal themselves in the 56th minute when Eduard Atuesta struck the post with a low drive. When the final whistle blew, they had done enough to progress and thus shall hopefully prove to be another welcome attack-minded addition to the final group stage.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

Colombia had at least a couple of noteworthy players absent from the line-up but, fortunately, a 5th-minute goal from  Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) was able to settle any nerves early on. He latched onto a short central pass from Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena), then benefited from some Chilean reserve as he was able to make his through a little too easily before striking a low shot into the corner for his third tournament goal. He and Obregón often linked up well alongside their attacking team-mates and made for a formidably powerful and pacy  spectacle when roaming forward with quick interplay. Indeed, in the 13th minute, Obregón again came upfield to slide a pass to Valencia, this time on the inside-right edge of the area; from here, the latter struck a low left foot effort that was saved. Later on in the 51st minute, Valencia managed to get another shot away following good work from Obregón and another compatriot; this time, his effort was from outside the area and comfortably gathered by the goalkeeper.

Though they connected well, aside from the goal these individuals playing behind the striker didn’t really create an eye-catching chance. One man who did, however, was the striker they were often seeking to play in. Indeed, in the 25th minute, Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado) came the closest he has all tournament to doing something befitting his advertiser’s dream of a name. Back-to-goal somewhat right-of-centre in the area, he did a great piece of improvisational skill to tee himself up, swivel and strike a fine volley that wenr just wide of the far post.

Otherwise, the closest Colombia came to extending the lead was a 55th-minute effort from captain Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín). Just a few minutes before this, the holding midfielder had headed a half-decent chance over but here, following good work from Luis Fernando Díaz (No. 17, Barranquilla) and a lay-off from Obregón, he hit the far post from just inside the area on the right.

One man surprisingly absent from the line-up was hitherto star man, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain). He entered the fray in the 73rd minute and got away a couple of late efforts when Chile had committed a few too many players up the other end: striking wide with a snap-shot as well as shooting at the goalkeeper. Whilst these were not the ideal circumstances to shine, one expects to see far more of him in the Hexagonal stage.

chileflag Chile

Although they probably won’t find much solace in the fact, La Rojita did nevertheless put in a spirited response to going behind so early, even if ultimately they fell short. Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy), their most potent attacking threat in the tournament – even if he did only play less than two-and-a-half games – was again here often involved with the search for a goal. Indeed, he hoisted and curled many balls into the area, some admittedly much better than others, though at least one should have had a better outcome than a soft header wide. Later in the 59th minute, he managed to fashion a chance for himself almost out of nothing when Richard Paredes (No. 9, Palestino) slightly overhit a diagonal ball from the edge of the area over towards the left; it was almost on the byline and looked set to go out before Vargas wrapped his left foot around it and struck a well-hit half-volley that the goalkeeper had to parry out.

Possibly the most visible man on the pitch was captain Francisco Sierralta (No. 13, Palestino, on loan from Granada, Spain), nominally a centre-back but who increasingly seemed to be given licence to roam. He was the one who greeted Vargas’ best free-kick delivery which came in from a deep position on the right in the 30th minute; however, though he rose high, he got a weak connection on the ball and his header went comfortably past the far post. Yet, he came much closer later on in the 75th minute when he bustled forward to the edge of the area and managed to poke, with some considerable power, a strike that rattled off the crossbar. Perhaps in part due to his determination to stay in the competition, his eagerness saw him pick up a second yellow in stoppage-time; yet, with so many other players who, pre-tournament, were earmarked for future prosperity also having been sent off, he can perhaps consider this a rite of passage. Indeed, he evidently has leadership qualities and is capable of providing an attacking threat as well as keeping forwards largely at bay (Chile’s record of four goals conceded in four games was their group’s second best). Thus, it is little wonder that the talent-hunters of Granada have already reached a deal for this irrepressible man.

Nevertheless, Sierralta may have hit the woodwork but it was another of Chile’s notable prospects who had their best chance to score. Indeed, Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) really should have equalised in the 80th minute when a free-kick lofted in by Gabriel Suazo (No. 8, Colo Colo) was headed invitingly across the goalmouth; however, though Jara got down to his knees in front of a gaping hole at the back post, he somehow nodded wide.

Lastly, a quick mention for an early 22nd-minute chance merely because it involved two Chileans who, during this tournament, always hinted that they had extra in their arsenal without ever really doing anything remarkable. Indeed, the tricky, if slight, Victor Dávila (No. 7, Huachipato) set up this opportunity on the inside-right when his hopeful ball found Iván Morales (No. 19, Colo Colo) in the area, though the latter struck into the side-netting.

Individuals such as these may become decent domestic players but if one had to bet on who will be receiving regular call-ups to the national side in the upcoming years, one would have to go with the following: Vargas, Sierralta (and possibly some other defence-minded players) and, with somewhat greater reservations, Jara.

Ecuador 2-1 Paraguay

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 26 January 2017 (YouTube)

In a game that would have led to the drawing of lots had it ended level, hosts Ecuador just about held on to progress, pipping Colombia and Brazil to the top of Group A on goals scored. They looked the better side early on and with two goals in two minutes momentarily seemed to send Paraguay into a spin. The first of these came in the 20th minute after their defence was caught out by a chipped ball which, in space, was then slid to Washington Corozo to knock home. Shortly afterwards, the home fans were sent into raptures when a hoisted ball towards the area was headed out only to Herlin Lino, who volleyed a spectacular golazo from 25 yards. By half time, Paraguay seemed out, though their coach hadn’t given up, even sending his players back out onto the pitch a few minutes before their opponents. He got an instant response as within 25 seconds of the restart, a hopeful ball knocked towards the right edge of the area was cheekily, yet wonderfully, lobbed over the goalkeeper by Pedro Báez. With the deficit halved, Paraguay threw virtually everything they had at the Ecuador goal, coming very close on more than one occasion. They caused home jitters with every forward foray as the hosts were frequently put very much on the back foot, surviving scare after scare. Alas, they clung on and should provide some much-needed atmosphere and bustling play in the Hexagonal; Paraguay, on the other hand, may feel a little unlucky to be leaving, though ultimately they didn’t quite do enough.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Possibly Ecuador’s most consistent threat in the tournament, Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec), had a hand in both of the goals as well as threatened to get on the scoresheet himself. Indeed, early on in the 9th minute he whipped in a free-kick from the left that dipped and had to be parried out. Shortly afterwards, he created a gilt-edged opportunity for another player of note, Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle), when his perfectly weighted cross from the right found the latter in acres of space, yet he directed his header straight against the post. However, in the 20th minute, Corozo made up for this when he scored the opener. This arrived when Rojas did brilliantly to beat the offside trap and control a fine chipped ball from Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin) and then slide it in space across the area to Corozo, who turned and struck home. For the second goal, Rojas dinked a ball forward to the edge of the area where it was headed out unconvincingly to Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador), who deserves all the credit for his sensational swerving volley from 25 yards, which caught the goalkeeper out of position and ripped the back of the net.

Otherwise, Rojas and Corozo did provide some more notable contributions to the game: the former tested the goalkeeper and his defence from set-pieces and the latter ran at opponents, getting in a shot or two from open play and almost played a part in sealing the win late on. This occurred in the 82nd minute when he marched on a breakaway down the left, but a defender caught up with him as he was set to play the ball through for a one-on-one opportunity; his pass was thus blocked.

Two minutes after this, with Paraguay largely stationed in opposition territory, another ball was played into space in their half, this time on the right. With possibly his first touch of the match, Corozo’s replacement Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador), struck a fearsome effort from the right of the area, which caused concern even if it went wide.

However, chances like these last two were rather isolated moments in the second half as Ecuador were largely preoccupied with repelling the Paraguayan onslaught. Indeed, in perhaps a portent of things to come, just before half time, Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy) did rather well to stop a cross from reaching its target at the back post, as he headed away from what was almost the underside of the bar. After the break, the services of attackers such as he would be required more at their own end; in the Hexagonal, however, Ecuador have thus far shown more than enough to convince that they will be a significant threat to opponents, whomever they may be.

paraguay Paraguay

Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad) has probably been his country’s most significant player in this tournament and, though he could not find a way through here, much anticipation nevertheless greeted many of his touches. Indeed, he actually had his side’s first notable chance of the match when, in the 12th minute, he took the ball past a player and then, from the inside-left of the area with a clear sight of goal, took aim; alas, his shot was straight at the goalkeeper and was blocked out. Later in the 30th minute, he exhibited some wherewithal and technique to skilfully keep in at the left byline an overhit free-kick; from here, he hooked the ball into the area where it bounced before a team-mate who, unfortunately, blazed well over. In the second half, he continued to be a potential threat from set-pieces, his most notable attempt from one coming in the 66th minute 22 yards out on the inside-right; yet, despite the huge delay and build-up, he curled this a yard or two over the near post.

The man who did manage to find the back of the net – and who was also the player who whacked over Medina’s first-half cut-back – was Pedro Báez (No. 9, Real Salt Lake, USA, on loan from Cerro Porteño). His first goal of the tournament against Chile had been quietly impressive but this audacious lob from a Marcelo Arce (No. 3, Olimpia) hoist down the right side of the area immediately earned widespread praise. Though there was an element of hit-and-hope about it, one must credit him for rapidly eyeing the opportunity and then seizing the moment. Otherwise, though he certainly bustled, the closest he later came to helping his side get a second occurred in the 67th minute. Here, after he did well to beat his man he put in a cross from the right that dipped towards the back post and almost found a creeping team-mate, but a defender was there to head out.

However, one man who probably should have got an equalising goal, was substitute Richard Prieto (No. 20, General Díaz). The chance he squandered came in the 70th minute when a hoisted ball into the area was weakly chested by a defender towards his goalkeeper, yet so soft was it that Prieto was able to sneak in, one-one-one, but his blasted shot went well over. For many, that was the moment and that was the tournament.

Right-back Rodi Ferreira (No. 2, Olimpia) was responsible for this delivery into the area and he was another potential supplier of that elusive second goal, often knocking balls upfield from deep positions. Sometimes, he even got forward himself, such as in the 57th minute when a free-kick was struck in from the left side and he just about kept the ball in play on the byline; his hanging header, no doubt unintentionally, caused a few jitters as it eventually came down and hit the top of the crossbar before going over.

Both he and the left-sided full-back Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland).appear to be important prospects who could quite plausibly become regulars in the senior squad in upcoming years. Indeed, in this match the Swiss-based left-back also tried to get himself an assist, curling in some decent balls that nevertheless could not be directed goalwards. He himself, to his enormous credit, actually created a chance of his own in the 63rd minute; here, following the breakdown of a Ecuador corner, he blazed a trail up the centre of the pitch, easily bypassing at least two players along the way, before striking a solid effort that went a yard or so wide of the far post. Later on in the tense latter stages, as he was often pushing forward, he sometimes had to dash back, such as in the 82nd minute when he impressively crossed over to the right side of the pitch to stop Corozo from playing a through-ball that could have led to an Ecuadorian third. Thus, Riveros shows potential at both ends and was even given the tournament’s blessing for future success by getting sent off at the death – who knows, we may see him in the Champions League next season.

Nevertheless, despite impressive moments from players such as Riveros, Rodi Ferreira, Medina and Báez, as well as, at times, Cristhian Paredes (No. 6, Club América, Mexico) and Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia), it’s adios to Paraguay. They came close, but just couldn’t quite manage to upset the capacity crowd in Riobamba.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Uruguay vs Bolivia & Argentina vs Venezuela, the final games from both Group B and the group stage altogether – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Day 3 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Brazil 0-0 Chile & Ecuador 4-3 Colombia)

On the third day of the 2017 edition of the prestigious U-20 South American Youth Championship, attention turned back to Group A, with Brazil taking on Chile and hosts Ecuador facing Colombia. Below are video highlights, brief summaries of each game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…

groupa20117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Brazil 0-0 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 20 January 2017 (YouTube)

An ill-tempered and ugly game with six yellow cards and two reds (including one for a substitute), this was also a match of poor quality, though Chile deserve some praise for holding out for over 60 minutes with ten men. Brazil somewhat fortuitously hit the post towards the end of a very lacklustre first half, yet though they saw more of the ball, ultimately they did not do enough to convince that they deserved a win. La Rojita, whilst largely constrained, created a few chances; it will be interesting to see what they are capable of if they can improve their discipline, though they do find themselves in a rather competitive group.

Talent Spotting

brazilflag Brazil

The performance of David Neres (No. 11, São Paulo) was by no means exceptional but he nevertheless deserves highlighting for exhibiting one particular moment of intent – a quality that was often lacking in his side. In the 62nd minute, seemingly tired of the lethargy of those around him, he rampaged into the area from the right, evading at least two challenges before striking hard with his left boot, forcing a parry. The rebound by his team-mate was also stopped and then knocked off the line, but nevertheless, this was the sort of wake-up call an underperforming side needs; perhaps he can provide the catalyst in future games.

Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) was the forward who unsuccessfully attempted on the stretch to hook in the rebound to Neres’ shot. Earlier on at the end of the first half, he had also instinctively diverted the long-range strike of Caio Henrique (No. 7, Atlético Madrid) onto the post. Otherwise, as with his fellow attacking team-mates such as Lucas Paqueta (No. 10, Flamengo), Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense) and Douglas Luiz (No. 8, Vasco da Gama), he was often lurking around the area but struggling to cause much discomfort. Lucas Paqueta’s most memorable contribution was a low shot from outside the area which drew a good save, Richarlison’s was a nifty turn before a weak cross, whereas Luiz, despite looking assured on the ball, skied over the bar more than once. All three men were withdrawn well before the final whistle.

A brief word for goalkeeper Caíque (No. 23, Vitória). Though he was mocked for a first-half air-kick (which was mostly likely the fault of the bobbly pitch), he otherwise looked alert, more than once anticipating trouble from long balls early on and rushing out his area to intercept. Though he will face sterner tests in the upcoming days, it can not pass completely without comment that he has so far kept two clean sheets.

chileflag Chile

Playing with ten men for an hour, Chile did not have too many opportunities to show what they can do and so it is more their rearguard that is deserving of praise. Yours truly has to confess that he did not notice one particular defender being conspicuously more integral than any of the others, but two South American football observers singled out certain individuals. Indeed, Victor Grao praised Canada-born left-back Cristián Gutiérrez (No. 4, Colo Colo), while Tom Webber was taken by centre-back Francisco Sierralta (No. 13, Palestino, on loan from Granada, Spain). Although Brazil did not make the most of their one-man advantage and shots did not rain down upon the Chilean goal, goalkeeper Gonzalo Collao (No. 1, Universidad de Chile) nevertheless also certainly played his part in keeping a clean sheet. Indeed, his most impressive moment came in the 62nd minute when he first saved Neres’ strike and then stretched to get a glove on Vizeu’s rebound; the ball subsequently went up in the air and then dipped goalwards but Sierralta was on hand to clear.

From an attacking perspective, though Chile were hindered by the man-disadvantage, they did show a few glimpses of what they can do in the final third. Indeed, the man who received the red card, Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy), had actually looked like one of their leading threats, particularly in the fifth minute when he struck a well-hit free-kick from a difficult position on the left that Caíque had to tip over. Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) was another one who had looked lively yet left the field early, in his case substituted off at half time. He was responsible for a 29th-minute curling cross from the right with his left boot that narrowly missed the heads of those who leapt for it and ultimately had to be clawed out for a corner by Caíque, lest it creep past him into the goal. Three minutes later, he created a better opportunity when his dinked ball into the area was headed weakly by a defender, falling kindly to Gabriel Suazo (No. 8, Colo Colo); he instinctively hooked an attempt, though it rose a couple of yards over the bar.

In the second half, forward forays were rare but two of slight interest did occur, with Richard Paredes (No. 9, Palestino) involved in both. The first, after 70 minutes, saw him burst from the halfway line into the left side of the area; it seemed as if Lucas Paqueta may have brought him down but the Chilean was immediately back on his feet and turned with half a sight of goal to hit a rasping, if rather wild, shot which ultimately went well wide of the target. The second chance occurred just three minutes later when he met a long, diagonal ball into the area, though his header was rather tame and caught easily by Caíque.

Overall the match was far from a classic and one wonders what kind of attacking threat Chile will pose with 11 men (including Vargas when he returns from suspension). They did show glimpses of potential and if they take a page out of the book of Carlos Lobos (No. 21, Universidad Católica) – whose 50th-minute strike from the halfway line only went a few yards over the bar – they could turn out to be well worth tuning in for.

 Ecuador 4-3 Colombia

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 20 January 2017 (YouTube)

The locals who came early to the Estadio Olímpico de Riobamba were rewarded for their perseverance through the preceding drab affair with this goal-glut in which their compatriots dramatically gained their first win. The match was a very fluid, end-to-end encounter, containing enough action for at least four matches, so let’s stick with the goals for now:

Colombia took the lead after 6 minutes when Damir Ceter spectacularly struck home from just outside the area. Subsequently, the hosts had their chances but it was Jorge Obregón who got the second goal of the game, slotting into an open goal after goalkeeper José Cevallos had denied Ceter. However, shortly afterwards, the comeback began when, in the 41st minute, Pervis Estupiñán was on hand in the area to strike and thus halve the deficit. Just seven minutes after the restart, Ecuador were on level terms after a ball that looped up in the air following a corner came down to be volleyed in with controlled aplomb by Joel Quintero. Four minutes later, the hosts then temporarily achieved the scoreline reversal by going ahead via a Bryan Cabezas spot-kick, following a completely unnecessary foul by goalkeeper Manuel Arias. However, Colombia did not entirely succumb to the forces of fatalism as, in the 74th minute, they were level again when, at the second attempt, substitute Ever Valencia tapped in a wicked low cross at the back post. One would have thought that the two teams would settle for three goals apiece but in the closing minutes Ecuador, buoyed by their substitutes, ramped up their efforts for a winner. They got their reward in the 92nd minute when two of their fresher players combined to nab a memorable victory: Wilter Ayoví crossed in from the inside-right for Jordy Caicedo to head in off the post. Cue bedlam in Riobamba.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Four goals scored but all by different players and not one individual could say they played a strong role in more than one of them. Thus, though it feels that there were many candidates for Man of the Match, not one had a clear claim.

Nevertheless, plenty impressed and one who particularly caught the eye – and not just for his exceptional name – was Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain). Nominally a left-back, given his strength and skill on the ball, an advanced position further up the pitch – where he was often found in this match – may prove to be his true calling. Indeed, with his roams, he drew some free-kicks, one of which he took himself early on; this was a good effort, dipping and swerving not too far wide of the past. Deserves credit for starting the fightback in the 41st minute with a strong left-footed strike that was too much for goalkeper Arias. He’s another player at this tournament with international pedigree in the family – his uncle, Jorge Guagua, has over 60 caps for La Tri.

Although he was only on the pitch for about 25 minutes, Wilter Ayoví (No. 8, Independiente Del Valle) played a significant role in leading the charge for the fourth goal. Indeed, he had chances to score, such as in the 77th minute when he struck across goal and came within a whisker of the far post – at least two other shots were either parried out or went narrowly wide.  However, it seemed as if he was going to leave the match a very frustrated – and perhaps slightly haunted – man as, in stoppage-time, he side-footed a cut-back wide of a largely unguarded net. Perhaps the ball came to him too quickly but he nevertheless made up for this barely 30 seconds later when he crossed in for the winning goal.

From the off, his club team-mate Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle) was also never too far away from the final third. His most significant contribution was the short pass for Estupiñán’s goal, but he could have had another assist had Ayoví converted his cross-goal effort. He was involved in many moves and had a shot on target in the last ten minutes; his best chance was way back in the 7th minute when he latched onto a bouncing forward pass, hooked it over the goalkeeper but, unfortunately for him, also over the bar.

The player who played this ball upfield into Corozo’s stride was Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin), a man who was given a start after coming on as a substitute in Ecuador’s first game. As with that match against Brazil, here he also tried his luck from range, most notably in the 45th minute when, from over 40 yards out, his dipping strike ended up just a yard or two over the bar. Other teams take heed: do not give this man a wide berth.

Otherwise, some quick praise for the following: Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec) for again putting in some dangerous set-pieces, most notably the one that caused the confusion which led to the second Ecuador goal, volleyed in with admirable composure by centre-back Joel Quintero (No. 3, Emelec). Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy), for keeping his cool to slot home the penalty for 3-2, as well as continuing from the first match his tendency to be a frequent nuisance to defenders and being able to get into good positions. Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador) for robbing a defender and then drawing the – admittedly stupid – foul from goalkeeper Arias to win the penalty, as well as for putting in a fine low cross for Cabezas early on. Lastly, credit to Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador) for showing great mental character and belief; having been dropped after the first game, he came on as a substitute in the 87th minute and 5 minutes later he got onto the end of Ayoví’s cross to head home for a memorable win.

colombia Colombia

Though their defence and their – possibly ill, if not injured, goalkeeper – did not come out of this with flying colours, some of Colombia’s attack certainly impressed, particularly in the first half.

Damir Ceter (No. 9, Santa Fe), for one, as he repaid some of the faith his manager showed by starting him here, having come on as a goalscoring substitute in their previous match with Paraguay. Indeed, he left many with open mouths when he became the first name on the scoresheet with a fantastic 6th-minute golazo following a knock-down. He could well have scored again when he dispossessed a defender and charged into the area, but ultimately his heavy touch caused him to overrun the ball. However, though the opposition goalkeeper dispossessed Ceter, the ball nevertheless fell to Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena), who did well to strike into the inviting net to double Colombia’s lead.

Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) again showed glimpses of why he’s already been snapped up by a European side noted for their intrepid scouting. He set up Ceter’s goal with his chest and should probably have scored himself in the 13th minute when he was played through, but his shot was too close to the goalkeeper.

Otherwise, brief praise for Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali), who played Hernández in for his main opportunity, though a second yellow of the tournament means he misses the next game. Also, a simple note to state that whilst it was a great low ball to the back post that found Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) to make it 3-3, the goalscorer shouldn’t really have needed two bites at the cherry to do so.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Peru vs Bolivia and Argentina vs Uruguay from Group B – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical