The defending champions dominated before a late goal helped them beat Colombia 1-0; China beat Mexico 2-1 in the other Group C tie in Navi Mumbai
On the eve of their match, Spain coach Kenio Gonzalo wanted his team to play bold football and enjoy every moment. That’s what the players did as they kicked-off their title defence in the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup with a 1-0 win over Colombia in Group C at the DY Patil Stadium here.
In the group’s opening match, crucial saves from China goalkeeper Chen Liu, including one in stoppage time, ensured they won 2-1 against the 2018 runners-up Mexico.
Spain’s 1-0 scoreline may suggest it was a close match, but the holders dominated throughout, showing why they are among the favourites.
La Roja showed great ball control and dominated possession. In an otherwise clinical display the only thing they lacked was more goals. Colombia had their moments but as the game progressed, they couldn’t match the quality of Spain.
Spain’s goal came through substitute Jone Amazaga in the 85th-minute, but they never stopped believing and continued attacking. Barcelona midfielder Vicky Lopez was their most impressive player and she pulled the strings.
The only time Colombia threatened the Spanish goal was early in the match but Yesica Munzo’s strike was well saved by goalkeeper Sofia Fuente.
As the match progressed, Spain took control, though the goal didn’t arrive till late. In the 23rd minute, Lopez couldn’t finish off a move she started in the midfield, lobbing the ball over the bar. She thought she had scored in the second half, but the strike was ruled out by VAR for handball.
Against China, Mexico dominated the first half but couldn’t score. Alice Soto’s and Maribel Flores’s early shots were saved by Liu. Mexico’s best chance came in the 35th minute when they were awarded a penalty, but forward Flores went for power and struck the crossbar. Thereafter, Mexico’s game fizzled out and China showed discipline to tie them down in the midfield.
In the second half, China were more aggressive and pressed hard every time Mexico had possession. The strategy worked as they pushed the Mexicans deep into their half and won a penalty in the 49th minute, which was converted by skipper Qiao Ruiqi, who went for precision and slotted it in the corner.
Fatima Servin’s long-ranger, saved by Liu, was the only clear-cut shot at goal Mexico produced in regulation time.
China thought they had sealed the match in the 90th minute when Yu Xingyue scored off a silky pass from Ge Yu which cut open the Mexico defence. But Mexico piled on the pressure in injury time and pulled one back through Katherin Guijarro before her effort from outside the box was saved by Liu, which sealed China’s win. The start of the match was delayed by 10 minutes due the lightning.