Penaloza Helped Colombia To Beat USA To Reach The Knockouts

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Colombia produced their best game when it mattered as they beat USA 3-1 to qualify for the pre-quarterfinal stage of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, in Navi Mumbai on Thursday.

Needing a win to push their case, Colombia scored through Juan Vidal (3rd minute), Juan Penaloza (67th) and Dieber Caicedo (87th) to seal the win and finish second in Group A behind Ghana. USA’s lone goal was scored by George Acosta in the 24th minute.

USA, who had earlier beaten hosts India 3-0 and Ghana 1-0, tasted their first defeat of the tournament and this was Colombia’s second win after they beat India in New Delhi.

After being tied on points, goal-difference and number of goals scored with the USA, Colombia clinched the second spot in the group and automatic qualification to the knockout stages with a superior head-to-head. Needing a win, it was Colombia who drew first blood. A long throw by Andres Cifuentes inside the box found Vidal who slammed the ball into the right-corner and Colombia led in the third minute.

USA came back strongly as Acosta came close soon soon after the goal following a fine one-two with skipper Josh Sargent. USA had the bulk of possession in the first 22 minutes but failed to find the equaliser.

They finally found the goal through Acosta whose stunning right-footed shot from the center of the box made it 1-1.

Both teams were aggressive as the game approached half-time. USA were denied a chance to take the lead in the 37th minute after a free kick by Sargent took deflection of the Colombian wall before going wide. At the half-way stage, the two teams were level at 1-1.

Colombia started the second-half as the stronger team in attack while their defence stood firm giving no open space to the American strikers.

Columbia then came close in the 60th minute but Andres Perea’s shot from outside the box was well saved by USA’s keeper Justin Garces. Seven minutes later Colombia had the lead.

A free-kick from just outside the penalty area was neatly taken by Penaloza, who curled it from the left to the bottom right corner. With three minutes until regulation time, Penaloza was again at the center of things providing the assist to Colombia’s third goal.

USA who were leading the points table only needed a point to qualify to the next round as group leaders. Being tied on six points with Colombia and Ghana, USA can still make it into the knockout stages as one among the four best third place teams in the tournament.