March 30, 2011 | In: Articles

South American U17 Championship: Narrow win fires Argentina top of final group stage

Argentina 1-0 Paraguay

Oscar Garre’s Albiceleste kids got off to the best possible start as the final round of the U17 Championships kicked off on Monday, squeezing past Paraguay 1-0 to go top of the table after one game.

The match was by no means a classic, and in the first half especially both sides seemed to keen to stick to the rigid tactical ideas handed down by their coaches rather than try to express their natural talent and enthusiasm. It made for a turgid spectacle, and those in attendance were hoping for a few more fireworks after the break.

There was little improvement though when the teams re-entered the field, as goalscoring chances remained few and far between. However, some great play from Lucas Ocampos suddenly opened the game up with 12 minutes remaining, and after a neat one-two with Brian Ferreira the River Plate starlet played in Martin Benitez for the game’s only goal.

As the only team to record a win in the first round of matches, the Albiceleste sit on top of the pile as they prepare for a huge game against rivals Uruguay later in the week.

Colombia 0-0 Ecuador

A first half power cut was one of the few stand-out moments in a disappointing South American clasico, as Ecuador and Colombia ground each other down to a 0-0 stalemate in their first match of the final stage.

Both teams tried to make a breakthrough with some impressive individual and collective play. However, the marking was fierce at either end of the stadium and most of the approach work lacked incisiveness, meaning neither goalkeeper was seriously tested over the course of 90 deadlocked minutes.

Colombia must next face Brazil with scars from their previous 5-1 thrashing still fresh, while Ecuador host Paraguay.

Brazil 0-0 Uruguay

Uruguay had the best of Tuesday’s clash against in-form Brazil, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw which leaves four teams tied behind Argentina in second place of the Championships.

The sides were more or less even in the first half, with most of the play occurring in a charged midfield battle, and real goalscoring chances few and far between. Charrua star Juan Cruz Mascia came within a whisker of his fourth goal of the tournament, rattling the post with a stinging long range effort.

The game looked within Uruguay’s reach when, with 65 minutes played, Brazil were reduced to 10 men thanks to a second booking for defender Josue. But they could not take advantage against a backline that remained resolute despite the numerical disadvantage, and the game meandered to a stalemate which in reality will leave neither team too upset.

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