LNTUP

Spain Booked The Quarter Final Berth With The Last Gasp Penalty

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Drama at the death was the resounding motto after the conclusion of a pulsating Round of 16 Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) U17 World Cup tie, which saw between France and Spain, which the latter triumph.

Lenny Pintor opened the scoring for France, yet, their neighbours in Europe hit back through a Juan Miranda header ten minutes after the French took the lead. In a cruel stab to the home team on the night, Oumar Solet was punished for a foul on José Alonso Lara in the penalty box, which saw Abel Ruiz successfully convert the spot-kick to all but hand Spain safe passage to the quarter-finals where they face Iran.

The French brought back seven of their first-teamers from their 5-1 win over Honduras in their last group stage game. Vincent Collet, Oumar Solet, Maxence Lacroix, Claudio Gomes, Yacine Adli, Lenny Pintor and top-scorer Amine Gouiri returned to bring back that enviable spine down the middle.

Spain, however, chose to stick with the same team and similar 4-2-3-1 formation with FC Barcelona’s Abel Ruiz leading the attack with club-mate Sergio Gomez and Real Madrid duo Mohamed Moukliss and Cesar Gelabert supporting him from behind.

It was Spain who had the first real chance of the evening as Sergio Gomez’s delivery into the box from a freekick was met by Ferran Torres but his header was a bit too high in the 19th minute.

Both sides appeared as equals on the pitch, matching each other toe-to-toe as the possession remained almost the same. Spain did win a few corners but were unable to make much of the chances with Abel Ruiz’s only early glory coming from a weak shot which Yahia Fofana collected with ease.

After the break in play in lieu of the half-hour water interval, Spain were caught off guards as Maxence Caqueret, sitting deep intercepted a ball and fed it to Gouiri. The Lyon man then nudged the ball towards an onrushing Lenny Pintor who left his marker Mateu Morey for dead and glided in past Victor Chust to deposit the ball into his near post to break the deadlock.

Moments ahead of the half-time whistle, Morocco-born Antonio Blanco released Ferran Torres on the right channel as the Valencia CF man spewed in a dangerous cross which was met with precision by left-back Juan Miranda, heading past Fofana to equalise.

The Spanish contingent arrived with refreshed vigour after the lemon break and seemed to be in control of things in the middle of the park. France were compelled to put more than half a dozen bodies to defend but Spain were unable to come through in the final third.

Sergio Gomez was on two set-piece opportunities around the hour mark. The first one was shot way wide of the post; the latter was met with the French wall which Chust shot into target but Fofana diligently blocked off.

Adli and Gouiri hardly found any open space and both teams constricted each other’s offence in a similar fashion, with Abel Ruiz too seeing very less of the ball.

France replaced both wingers but fresh legs could not help the cause as Oumar Solet brought down Jose Lara inside the box. Abel Ruiz answered the call by converting from the spot in the final minute of regulation time.

Les Bleus pushed hard thereafter and had a final opportunity to draw level when Wilson Isidor turned a powerful header towards goal from a Maxence Caqueret cross. However, the goalkeeper blocked it and safely led the Armada into the next round, as the French stood stunned on the turf with rife disappointment.