Tag Archives: Chile 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20

Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia & Peru – Top Talents at the 2017 Under-20 South American Youth Championship

The 2017 Under-20 South American Youth Championship took place in Ecuador from 18 January until 11 February. @DarrenSpherical watched all 35 games, writing reports for each encounter that detailed all the significant moments by the most talented players that were spotted. This article focuses on the most notable starlets found in the ranks of Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia & Peru, who were all knocked out in the opening group stage and thus will not be going to the Under-20 World Cup. Before browsing below, it may be advisable to have a look at the final standings, results and goalscorers here and/or read the main reference guide published on this website, which features details on dozens of players, with every one of the ten participating nations represented. 

(All photographs are credited to GettyImages)

Best of the Early Departees

Although their individual presences now feel like a lifetime ago, what follows are some details on the most talented players from the four sides who were knocked out in the opening group stage of the 2017 Under-20 South American Youth Championship. Whilst one firmly believes that the six best teams qualified for the Hexagonal, there are nevertheless a dozen or so players from nations that went home early who may still be worth keeping in mind.

Group A

paraguay Paraguay

Tournament Summary

Certainly the side featuring the best players who did not make it to the Hexagonal stage, they were ultimately one goal away from finishing exactly level with Ecuador and requiring lots to be drawn.

To view highlights as well as read more about how Paraguay got on and who stood out in each game, click here.

Talents

Having featured in 2015 as a 17-year-old, left-footed attacking midfielder Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad) was playing in his second Sudamericano Sub-20 tournament and he further bolstered his reputation in his four games in January. Indeed, a regular at a high domestic level, he was often seen taking set-pieces and looking to play in team-mates; most notably, he managed score twice late on against Brazil. He also received an assist against Chile for a forward pass to Pedro Báez (No. 9, Cerro Porteño), but it’s the striker who deserves most credit for fooling a cluster of defenders before firing home. Furthermore with regard to Báez, he would go on to score an audacious lob at the very beginning of the second half of the decisive final clash against Ecuador – as he only received two starts and a substitute appearance, two goals was a respectable haul.

Otherwise, the two full-backs are prospects whose names are worth remembering by fans of La Albirroja. Both played in all four games and were particularly notable for their attacking, with right-back Rodi Ferreira (No. 2, Olimpia) frequently seen pumping testing balls upfield as well as knocking in dangerous free-kicks. At just 18 years of age, he looks to be well on the right path, possessing an impressive youth career which includes featuring at 2015’s U-17 World Cup. He is also a regular starter at domestic giants Olimpia and can count a former team-mate of his in left-back Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland), who has in the past several months already made four starts in the Swiss Super League. In this tournament, like Ferreira, he regularly played diagonal balls upfield and, with one against Colombia, was actually credited with an assist. At times, he also displayed an impressive capacity to beat opponents and get forward, most eye-catchingly so against Ecuador, when he nearly scored after blazing a trail through the centre of the pitch, finally striking narrowly wide.

chileflag Chile

Tournament Summary

Less can be said for La Rojita, particularly from an attacking perspective, as even though they were still fighting for a Hexagonal place on the final Group A matchday, they did only manage to pick up two points, scoring just two goals.

To view highlights as well as read more about how Chile got on and who stood out in each game, click here.

Talents

Coming into the tournament, Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy) had some admirers, yet was recklessly sent off in the opening half of the first match against Brazil. He had looked like a potential threat and when he returned in the third game against Paraguay, he clearly wished to make it up to his team-mates; here, he struck numerous attempts from range and tested defenders and the goalkeeper alike with set-pieces, one of which rattled the crossbar. To a lesser extent, he was also one of the leading forward players in the crunch game with Colombia. In this match, Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) missed a glaring opportunity to equalise, though as he did also score against Paraguay and gained an assist in the preceding encounter with Ecuador, he perhaps shouldn’t be completely dismissed.

As their record of four goals conceded was the second best in the group, their defence – which kept a clean sheet against Brazil whilst playing with ten men for an hour – received some favourable comments. Arguably the cream of the crop was centre-back Francisco Sierralta (No. 13, Palestino, on loan from Granada, Spain), 6 feet 3 and captain of the side. He particularly showed his leadership qualities in the final match with Colombia when, somewhat curiously given his position, he regularly forced his way forward and even struck the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining. Like Paraguay’s Riveros in the last-day match with Ecuador, Sierralta picked up a second yellow card towards the end of the final encounter with Colombia, though both of these fouls can be put down to an overspill of passion and drive as these men played prominent roles in their respective countries’ struggles.

Group B

boliviaflag Bolivia

Tournament Summary

Coming into the tournament in organisational disarray, lower-than-usual expectations were defied when they beat Peru 2-0. However, a 5-1 thrashing by Argentina seemed to restore balance in the universe of footballing certainties, yet after fortunately gaining a point off Venezuela, they were in a promising position to progress, but alas it wasn’t to be.

To view highlights as well as read more about how Bolivia got on and who stood out in each game, click here

Talents

Following the 2-0 win over Peru, it looked as if they may have a handful of players worth keeping an eye on but none of these could be said to have made any valuable contributions afterwards. Indeed, man-of-the-match Limberg Gutiérrez (No. 20, Nacional, Uruguay) – who also played in the 2015 tournament and is the son of a highly-capped international – was virtually anonymous in subsequent games, despite having displayed some skill and drive, particularly when setting up the second goal against Peru. This was scored by Bruno Miranda (No. 11, Universidad de Chile, Chile), who had another shot of note in the game; subsequently, he had two more opportunities against Venezuela and perhaps should have done better with at least one of these.

Instead, however, quite possibly the one to look out for from this crop was the youngest member of the squad, the man who came on as a substitute in the Peru win and would later earn two starts from his three subsequent appearances. Indeed, 17-year-old Ramiro Vaca (No. 10, Quebracho) emerged off the bench for a second time against Argentina and scored a brilliant free-kick; this is clearly a specialty of his as he also struck a fine 35-yard set-piece against Uruguay that required a parry in Bolivia’s final match. Had Miranda buried the first of his chances against Venezuela, he would have also had an admirable assist to his name.

peruflag Peru

Tournament Summary

Finishing with just two points and embarrassed by Bolivia in their second game, an unremarkable Peru were nevertheless somewhat unlucky not to progress to the Hexagonal, having been denied wins against both Argentina and Venezuela due to last-minute equalisers.

To view highlights as well as read more about how Peru got on and who stood out in each game, click here

Talents

They did well defensively to largely frustrate Argentina though it can’t really be said that any defenders were able to build upon this in subsequent games. Instead, it’s perhaps towards the attackers that one must look to if anyone is to be highlighted, though even here there aren’t really any clear candidates. Perhaps midfielder Roberto Siucho (No. 11, Universitario) – who also played in 2015’s competition – deserves a mention, largely for scoring his side’s two tournament goals, despite only ever once finding the net at club level in over 50 games (in all competitions). The first against Argentina was a strike from outside the area that would never have gone in were it not for a wicked deflection and the second against Venezuela involved a defensive mix-up, though he nevertheless did well to barge in and slide home.

Otherwise, there is a striker and at least a few attacking midfielders who showed glimpses of ability, though to name all of them would be somewhat disproportionate to their contributions. Thus, just a quick mention for 17-year-old Gerald Távara (No. 7, Sporting Cristal), who, particularly against Venezuela, stood out with his crosses and shots, such as the 4th-minute attempt at a gol olímpico (from a direct corner), which had to be palmed back out. Having featured at the Under-17 Sudamericano tournament in 2015, he appears to be playing two years in advance of his age; perhaps he can get some good club experience under his belt before his potential return at Chile 2019.


If you would like to read about the best talents from the other nations, then click on the following links: UruguayEcuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil & Colombia. All of this information is also contained in this mammoth Reference Guide.  

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 7 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Paraguay 2-1 Chile & Colombia 1-0 Brazil)

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

groupa240117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Paraguay 2-1 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 24 January 2017 (YouTube)

Pre-game, both sides seemed the likeliest to be going home early from Group A, but with a late winner, Paraguay greatly enhanced their chances of progressing, whilst putting Chile on the brink. Yet, it was La Rojita who made most of the early running, with the returning Jeisson Vargas setting up chances and rattling the crossbar from a free-kick. However, very much against the run of play, Paraguay took the lead in the 33rd minute when Pedro Báez twisted one way and then the other before striking home. It wasn’t to be until the 82nd minute that Chile got back on level terms; they did so via somewhat fortuitous means when a mis-hit cross bounced into the goalmouth, evading everyone except Ignacio Jara. Despite this relief, their joy was shortlived as in stoppage-time, following a rebound, the ball found its way through to Cristhian Paredes, who hit the back of the net.

Talent Spotting

paraguay Paraguay

Although he had less of a monopoly over the Paraguayan creativity than he did against Brazil, Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad) nevertheless played his part in some of the attempts on the Chile goal. Indeed, it was he who passed the ball up to Pedro Báez (No. 9, Real Salt Lake, USA, on loan from Cerro Porteño), though it is the latter who deserves most credit for the 33rd-minute opener, as he fooled a cluster of defenders before firing home with his left peg. Later in the 78th minute, Medina played a more substantial role in what was nearly the second goal, as his corner to the near post area bounced before purposely reaching the alert Saúl Salcedo (No. 5, Olimpia) whose elegant flick-shot with the outside of his right boot had to be quickly parried. With three minutes left Medina, this time from a free-kick, chipped in another ball that found its target in Báez, but alas, this went straight to the goalkeeper; thus, the eventual winner was to come from a different route altogther.

Indeed,  Cristhian Paredes (No. 6, Club América, Mexico) deserves praise for both starting and ending the sequence of events that led to this stoppage-time goal. He picked up the ball in the middle of the park, holding off a defender along the way before nudging it to Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia) on the edge of the area, who poked a shot at the goalkeeper. The rebound fell to Guillermo Paiva (No. 16, 3 de Febrero), who knocked in a low ball from the right inside the area towards the goalmouth; this was missed with an air-kick from Ferreira, but waiting behind him was Paredes, who fired home to claim the glory.

Otherwise, it would be remiss to note that just before this, Paraguay actually had two other notable chances to regain the lead, both featuring players involved with the goal. Indeed, Paiva was, in a way atoning for his miss barely a minute prior when, having just come on as a substitute, he was played into clear space around the edge of the area yet horribly screwed a right-footed shot wide.

Previous to this, Ferreira had rose rather well on the edge of the area to head a deep free-kick from the right; his effort bounced and seemingly threatened to creep inside the far post, but alas, this went a yard wide. This set-piece was played in by right-back Rodi Ferreira (No. 2, Olimpia) and it certainly wasn’t his only creative input in the game, having come close to the target from a free-kick earlier on and also having sent in some other testing balls. Already a regular at club level, it looks like his country may have a decent pair of full-backs in he and Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland).

chileflag Chile

Particularly in the first half, Chile saw much of the ball and, more than anyone else, the man leading the drive for a goal was the returning Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy); following on from his crude red card against Brazil, he provided several, more positive, instances of his talents. With less than two minutes gone, he played an incisive pass forward to 17-year-old Iván Morales (No. 19, Colo Colo) who just about shielded the ball away from the Paraguay goalkeeper before immediately turning and striking low; alas, defender Pablo Meza had quickly sensed this and was there on the goal-line to clear. Morales had a couple of other minor moments of note in the first half when generally being a nuisance to the opposition defence and may well be one to look out for at 2019’s tournament. Nevertheless, Vargas was the main man in this period, playing in balls and striking from range – at one point, he actually managed three shots in just under five minutes. Indeed, from 25 yards in the 24th minute, he struck with intent just wide of the far post; a minute later from a similar position, he hit a dipping free-kick barely a yard over; then, most eye-catchingly of all in the 28th minute, following a free-kick Morales had won after chasing a chipped Vargas ball, the latter whacked a thunderous set-piece that crashed off the crossbar and out. Although he was less conspicuous in the second half, he did nevertheless display some determination and hunger to push forward and cause some uncertainty with his area-bound balls; it’s not hard to see why a Serie A side have already snapped him up.

All that being said, he had no role in the 82nd-minute equalising goal, which had more than an element of fortune about it. Indeed, on the right, Victor Dávila (No. 7, Huachipato) – who caused a few problems with his dribbles, though seems a tad slight – made some space for himself but slipped as he was crossing in with his left boot. The ball thus bounced unpredictably in the goalmouth with first Morales missing it and then a defender being put in an awkward position; before he could do anything decisive about it, Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) pounced at the back post to get the goal.

Alas, ultimately, it wasn’t to be enough and now Chile find themselves perched over the precipice of elimination.

Colombia 1-0 Brazil

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 24 January 2017 (YouTube)

Brazil rested several of their hitherto most effective players as Colombia snatched a victory in a game no doubt appreciated more by the Mario Yepes’ than the Carlos Valderramas of this world. Indeed, despite having a lively tempo, clear chances were not easy to come by, with the two defences both emerging from this with the most plaudits. From range, Colombia’s Juan Hernández perhaps came closest with a respectable effort and, later, he could have perhaps had an assist to his name had Michael Gómez got more direction on his header. The second half largely consisted of defences getting the upper hand, though Brazil did come close in the 58th minute when a spilled free-kick was nodded onto the post by Lucas Cunha, though the rebound from this was nervily blocked. To witness a goal in this game was certainly unanticipated and the manner in which it arrived even more so: from a difficult angle on the right in the 87th minute, substitute Ever Valencia struck what looked like a cross, but which may have taken a minor deflection that surprisingly deceived the goalkeeper. Despite this loss, Brazil are through to the Final Phase, whereas these three points for Colombia mean that while a draw against Chile in their final game could well be enough for them to qualify, a victory certainly will be. Their fate now lies in their own feet.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

Though no attacking player could be said to have put in a vintage performance, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) again made some notable contributions. After just 9 minutes on the left, he exhibited some fine natural ability when, apropos of nothing, he turned to put in a superb right-footed dipping cross which Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado) met before the goalkeeper, but his connection was weak and went wide. Finishing like that won’t be earning ‘Mike Nike’ any lucrative sponsorship deals any time soon, though Hernández may have more luck in that department. He also came closest to the target in the first half when, from the right edge of the area in the 34th minute, he struck a decent effort that the goalkeeper had to tip over.

Otherwise, Colombia struggled to get a clear sight of goal within a realistic shooting distance and the likes of Luis Fernando Díaz (No. 17, Barranquilla) were often squeezed for time and space on the flanks. Indeed, for this otherwise persistent individual it didn’t get much better than a 47th minute cross-field pass that he played to Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) who, to the annoyance of Hernández in the centre, struck over from the right edge of the area. Also, in the 56th minute, right-back Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán) showed a brief glimpse as to why he may be one-to-watch when he came inside, received an unintentional one-two from his own forward nudge, then instinctively shot from range, though this was easily stopped by the goalkeeper.

Nevertheless, despite all these underwhelming attacks, they got the crucial goal. In the 87th minute, substitute Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) curled in a free-kick from an acute position on the right – ‘Ian Woan territory‘, if you will – and, though he no doubt was expecting a team-mate to get a touch on it, it somehow went past the keeper and in. It may have actually taken a slight touch off Brazil’s Léo Jabá, but as the ball wasn’t too elevated, it seems the goalkeeper was anticipating it to be headed away; instead, it flew by for Valencia’s second goal of the tournament.

Lastly, while Colombia’s defence may deserve some praise for the clean sheet, as they were playing a weakened Brazil side and three of their own back four in this match also conceded four goals in the Ecuador game, one may wish to withhold judgement for the time being.

brazilflag Brazil

Though they succumbed to what was a slightly fortuitous goal, Brazil’s defensive organisation deserves some acclaim for this performance as well as for all of the opening four games (three conceded). Those on the flanks, Rogério (No. 16, Juventus Primavera, Italy) and Robson Bambu (No. 13, Santos), performed admirable roles restricting the amount of balls into the area whilst centre-back Lyanco (No. 4, São Paulo) has an impressive stature and exuded confidence when coming out with the ball.

The other centre-back, Lucas Cunha (No. 3, Braga, Portugal), actually had his side’s best opportunity of the match. This came in the 58th minute following a free-kick dipped into area from the right by Allan (No. 5, Hertha BSC, Germany, on loan from Liverpool, England) which bounced through the bodies and was unconvincingly patted out by the goalkeeper. Lucas Cunha was thus on hand for the rebound but his header was directed a little too close to the corner, where it hit the post; from this, Maycon (No. 17, Corinthians) snapped a strike that would have gone in had it not been for an opponent getting in the way.

Otherwise, a few deflected shots and a minor 20-yard attempt from Giovanny (No. 21, Atlético Paranaense) that was comfortably saved low was about all this makeshift Brazil side were able to create. However, one suspects the coaching staff won’t be too worried as not only were they able to give some key players a rest but also all of those who did play will now go into the Final Phase with the relative luxury of five days off before their first match on 30 January.

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

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Day 5 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Brazil 3-2 Paraguay & Ecuador 1-1 Chile)

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

groupa22117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Brazil 3-2 Paraguay

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 22 January 2017 (YouTube)

Following on from their Chile stalemate, Brazil made a fairly unremarkable start to this match, but gradually regained some attacking impetus to see off Paraguay in a manner more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Richarlison had already hit the post before Matheus Sávio put Brazil 1-0 up in the 39th minute with a somewhat fortuitous free-kick that took a wicked deflection. Richarlison doubled the lead in the 57th minute, finishing off a Route One move that was flicked on by Felipe Vizeu from goalkeeper Caíque’s clearance upfield. A couple of minutes later Paraguay were down to ten men and, in the 65th minute, the third goal arrived when  Mattheus Sávio dinked a short ball into the area which Léo Jabá beat the goalkeeper to, allowing Felipe Vizeu a tap-in. Throughout most of the game, Paraguayan fans hadn’t had much to cheer about though, somewhat surprisingly, Jesús Medina did manage to pull two goals back. The first of these in the 80th minute was a well-executed penalty; the second, which came in stoppage-time, was rather easy on the eye, as his left-footed strike dipped into the top corner – though spoil-sports have their duty to point out that it was aided by a deflection.

Talent Spotting

brazilflag Brazil

Enjoying his first minutes of the competition, Matheus Sávio (No. 20, Flamengo) was a regular presence in attacking moves. He could be seen sliding in a team-mate for a decent chance early on and had at least one shot from range before he broke the deadlock; this came via an admittedly fluky, deflected free-kick in the 39th minute that never would have gone in had it not had its path drastically altered. In the second half, he continued to look to make things happen, notably dinking the ball forward that one team-mate squared to another for the third goal. Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) was the man who finished this move off; he doubled his tally for the tournament and he had earlier also been credited with an assist for nodding on the upfield clearance of goalkeeper Caíque (No. 23, Vitória), which led to the second goal in the 57th minute.

This, in turn, was finished off by Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense), another player who has stood out in the tournament. Earlier in the 12th minute, he was played in on the left side of the area by Matheus Sávio and struck the post with a low drive. Later on in the 28th minute, he nearly got an assist to his name when, from the left byline, he made some space to put in a well-directed cross with his right boot which glided straight to the back post to the feet of a team-mate.

However, Léo Jabá (No. 19, Corinthians) could only strike directly at the goalkeeper when a goal seemed quite likely. Nevertheless, although he previously had one substitute appearance to his name, like Matheus Sávio, Léo Jabá was also making his first start of the competition. Similarly difficult to ignore, he was particularly involved in the second half, striking across goal just a yard or so wide in the 51st minute. Most notably, he gained a well-earned assist in the 65th minute when he beat the goalkeeper to Matheus Sávio’s pass and simply slid it to Felipe Vizeu to make it 3-0. Later on, he had at least a couple more shots of his own, the most notable coming from a rebound in the 76th minute. Here, David Neres (No. 11, São Paulo) again displayed his capacity for fierce strikes, with his left-footed effort from the edge of the area causing the goalkeeper a fright, though he nevertheless parried. Léo Jabá then picked up the ball from a tight angle, managing to get in a shot that rolled across the goalmouth and narrowly wide.

paraguay Paraguay

Paraguay had much less to say for themselves and, based on the evidence so far, are not looking likely to progress to the final stage. Nevertheless, though it seemed like they could be on the receiving end of a tonking when they were 3-0 down and a man short owing to the stupidity of supposed talent Julio Villalba (No. 7, Cerro Porteño, on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany), an indisputable stand-out performer did ultimately emerge.

Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad) was their most creative player, even if the pickings were slim for much of the game. In the first half, he never got close to the opposition goal himself but put in a few balls, most notably a low one that went over to a compatriot on the right edge of the area, who hit a seemingly tame shot. Perhaps it was the bounce, but Caíque spilled this to striker Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia) at a tight angle and had it not been for the goalkeeper’s trailing leg, the Paraguayan striker would have had his second goal of the competition; instead the ball trickled wide for a corner. Alas, it was when the clock was against his team that Medina really made his mark. His first goal was an expertly taken penalty in the 80th minute; his second, in stoppage-time, was an eye-catching left-footed strike into the top corner hit from the right side of the area, though it did appear to get a flick off a defender to aid its loop over Caíque.

Though one’s eyes may have been playing tricks again, Paraguay did have one other chance of note to score that did not actually involve Medina. This came from the corner that followed Ferreira’s close-range shot in the first half; from the left, Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland) crossed in to the dead centre, but though Jorge Morel (No. 8, Guaraní) rose in space, his header was well off-target. Nevertheless, this re-affirmed that Europe-based left-back Riveros, who also set up Ferreira’s goal against Colombia, is a creative threat.

Ecuador 1-1 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 22 January 2017 (YouTube)

Hosts Ecuador came into this off the back of an exhilarating 4-3 win, yet though they took the lead here and could have been two-up, they let their opponents more into the game in the second half and succumbed to a draw. Indeed, after surviving an early scare, it was Jordan Sierra whose persistent hustling saw him enter the area and strike in low off the far post for the 7th-minute opener; later in the 39th minute, his side should have had a second but Joao Rojas’ clinical shot was incorrectly ruled to be offside. Chile missed a glaring chance to be level in the 61st minute, but just under twenty minutes later, they were able to restore parity. Indeed, in a tale of two Sierras, substitute José Luis was on hand to meet a fine cross with an adept low volley to square things up. Ecuador rallied towards the end but the score remained 1-1; thus, the hosts may rue an opportunity missed and though Chile had two head-in-hands moments of their own, one suspects that they will be more pleased with the point.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

A lot of praise should be rightfully reserved for the manner in which the first goal was scored by Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin). Following a poor goalkeeping clearance, a team-mate pounced on a defender who could only run into the trouble embodied by Sierra. The Ajax-target then showed great tenacity and desire to hold off and evade the challenges of two defenders before, somewhat surprisingly, sneaking in a shot that trickled off the far post and in. Otherwise, he was involved in other attacks, including a minor role in the offside goal by mere virtue of playing in the initial free-kick; more generally, it was good to see other sides to his game as in previous matches his most notable contributions had been some long-range efforts. Here, however, not only did he get a goal but he almost came close to winning the game late on when, following some Chilean attempts to repel Ecuadorian pressure, the ball fell to him on the dee; with one touch, he made space for himself in the area and struck a swerving half-volley that went barely a yard wide of the far post.

The man who charged at the left-back to facilitate the start of Sierra’s drive for his goal was Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec); this was the third successive Ecuador game in which he made some notable contributions and really should have had a goal in the 39th minute. Indeed,  following Sierra’s free-kick, there was a bit of to-and-fro on the edge of the area before the ball fell in space to Rojas, who struck a low right-footed shot into the corner. Replays clearly show him to be onside but the flag nevertheless went up.

Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain) caught the eye again, though not always for the right reasons. Indeed, after his goalscoring game against Colombia it was noted here that he may be better off further up the flank; for this argument, this game provided more evidence. Chile had two attempts – one in the 5th minute that was saved against the post, the other being their equaliser – where crosses came in from their left to unmarked players hovering around the right of the central area. One could be wrong and it may be a flaw in the defensive system, but as Estupiñán is nominally a left-back and, more to the point, the man who was closest to the attacker in both cases, one suspects that he was culpable for not dealing with the trouble. Nevertheless, true to form, up the other end he sought to cause problems. Indeed, in the 38th minute, his compatriot Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle) went on an impressive run, where he sped Bolt-like past a defender and then engaged in a spot of Ricky Villa-esque zig-zag dribbling before getting dispossessed; however, the ball fell to Estupiñán who struck with his trusty left boot, forcing the goalkeeper to instinctively tip over for a corner. More significantly, later on in the 90th minute just before Sierra had his last-gasp chance, Estupiñán came bustling into the area on the left, before turning the ball over to his – presumably weaker – right boot; yet, despite the crowd anticipating with bated breath a winner, his shot went a couple of yards wide of the near post.

chileflag Chile

Though at half-time it looked as if Chile could end up getting comfortably dispatched, they did grow into the game; yet, had they taken an early golden opportunity, the complexion of the match could have been quite different. Indeed, there had not really been much for La Rojita fans to get excited about, with their situation compounded by the surprising – to these eyes, at least – substitution of one of their potential threats, Carlos Lobos (No. 21, Universidad Católica).

However, their defence appears to be stronger than their attack, so they may have relished the opportunity to sit back and play on the counter had Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) scored after 5 minutes. Indeed, a fine ball from the left was played over to him in space at the back post; he met it with a diving header that he knocked downwards and which then bounced up but, unfortunately for him, it was too close to goalkeeper José Cevallos, who impressively palmed it onto the post. Jara was a little unfortunate here but he did ultimately compensate for this later on in the 80th minute as it was his perfect cross from the left that substitute José Luis Sierra (No. 22, Unión Española) coolly volleyed home. Regarding the Roja Sierra, he also has a relative who played professionally for his country: his father, also called José Luis Sierra, who played over 50 times for Chile, mostly in the 1990s.

Before this equaliser went in, the boys in red had been getting forward a little more in the second half and had already squandered a gilt-edged opportunity. This came about in the 61st minute following a fine right-sided cross from Raimundo Rebolledo (No. 2, Universidad Católica) which found Lobos’ replacement, Yerko Leiva (No. 6, Universidad de Chile), in clear space, one-on-one, eight yards out. However, he must have anticipated the ball’s flight incorrectly, as he embarrassingly sliced his low volley high and wide of the target.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Peru vs Venezuela and Argentina vs Bolivia from Group B – 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