Much has been written about France’s chances at the tournament, and Les Bleuets more than met those elevated expectations, enthralling the fans at the Estadio Chinquihue in Puerto Montt with a ruthless goalscoring display against New Zealand, who trailed 5-0 at the break and eventually lost a one-sided match 6-1. Curiously, the six French goals were scored by six different players.
In the other match in Group F, Paraguay also put in an impressive attacking performance while seeing off Syria 4-1.
In Group E, Costa Rica got the better of South Africa 2-1, notching an early goal and dominating the first half. Their opponents woke up in the second period, but conceded a penalty 20 minutes from time that effectively ended the match as a contest.
Russia, meanwhile, put themselves into a strong position by defeating Asian champions Korea DPR 2-0, with the goals coming at the start of each half.
South Africa 1-2 Costa Rica (Group E)
New Zealand 1-6 France (Group F)
Korea DPR 0-2 Russia (Group E)
Syria 1-4 Paraguay (Group F)
Goal of the day
New Zealand 1-5 France, James McGarry (76)
With his team already losing 5-0, James McGarry’s strike a quarter of an hour from time did not have much impact on the final outcome, but it may well have helped him to get a good night’s sleep, given that he had already opened the scoring at the wrong end earlier in the match. Not only did the determined forward’s well-taken finish make up for his previous indiscretion, but it brought to an end an undesirable run of six scoreless matches at the U-17 World Cup for New Zealand.
South Africans silenced: Ahead of their first-ever appearance at this level, South Africa’s excited players indulged in some boisterous pre-match chanting and singing in the tunnel that leads to the pitch at the Estadio Municipal Ester Roa in Concepcion. Unfortunately for Molefi Ntseki’s men, their confident voices did not translate into a victory on the field, as an on-song Costa Rica ran out 2-1 winners.
Russians do their talking on the pitch: Korea DPR’s players were also heard encouraging each other loudly in the tunnel prior to kick-off, in stark contrast to their Russian opponents, who were quiet, calm and focused. This attitude was reflected in their play, as they defeated the Asian side in composed fashion.
French festival: Before Monday, France’s largest victory at the U-17 World Cup dated back to 2001, when they beat Japan 5-1. Having built up a five-goal lead over New Zealand by half-time, it initially appeared that Jean-Claude Giuntini’s charges were well on course to set a new national record. A second-half goal from New Zealand temporarily put a spanner in the works, but in stoppage time Odsonne Edouard, top scorer during his nation’s European qualifying campaign, bagged a timely sixth.
2 – Costa Rica’s win over South Africa boosted their rather unimpressive statistics against CAF representatives – their record now reads two victories in ten attempts versus African teams.
Tuesday 20 October
USA-Croatia (Group A)
England-Brazil (Group B)
Chile-Nigeria (Group A)
Korea Republic-Guinea (Group B)