Monday, 11 November 2019

FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019: Dutch the first to reach final four

 Junior Quinonez of Paraguay in action against Soulaiman Allouch of Netherlands

The Netherlands raced past Paraguay 4-1 at Victoria's Estadio Kleber Andrade on Sunday to become the first semi-finalists at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™. The European champions opened the scoring in the 30th minute through defender Ki-Jana Hoever, then doubled their advantage 10 minutes later when Brazil 2019 leading goalscorer Sontje Hansen chipped over the sliding Angel Gonzalez. Despite conceding in first-half stoppage time due to a defensive error, the Dutch kept their form through the second period. They netted twice in the final 15 minutes to set up a semi-final date in Brasilia on 14 November with either Korea Republic or Mexico.

The Oranje enjoyed three times more possession than their South American opponents in the opening 10 minutes of the match, a sign of what was to come. Captain Kenneth Taylor's cross-field pass to Hoever, who was isolated on the right wing with Fabio Barrios, set up the Liverpool player's cut-back and powerful finish inside the box for the first goal. Forward Jayden Braaf, who assisted Hansen's first-half tally, put the match on ice in the 78th minute by finishing off a vicious Dutch counter attack. Hansen picked out Naci Unuvar for a close-range goal eight minutes later, making the final score reflect the Netherlands' command of the match.

La Albirrojita found a few opportunities to cause trouble against the run of play in the first half. Down two goals with the half-time whistle approaching, it looked as if momentum might swing in their favour. Hansen blazed over the crossbar what could have been the Netherlands' third, then Diego Duarte took full advantage of Devyne Rensch's botched clearance to tap into an open net. But there was no furious comeback in the cards like the Paraguayan's Round of 16 redemption against Argentina. Tied their best-ever finish in the competition, the journey ends here for the South Americans.

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