U-20 W/Cup: Spain flourishes, China survives, U.S humbled

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It was a case of joy, anguish, relief and pain as the 2018 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup heats up.

So what happened on Day two?

Spanish power

Patri Guijarro scored a hat-trick to lead Spain to a convincing 4-1 victory over Paraguay in their Group C opener at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 in Concarneau on Monday afternoon.

It was La Roja that dominated proceedings at the Stade Guy-Piriou, but they found Paraguay goalkeeper Isabel Ortiz difficult to beat, despite creating a number of chances.

At the other end, the South Americans were unlucky not to take a first-half lead after Fabiola Sandoval saw her long-range shot ricochet off the crossbar.

The European U-19 champions made their breakthrough five minutes before half-time, as Guijarro drilled a low shot past Ortiz to give Spain a deserved lead at the break.

They doubled their advantage nine minutes after half-time, as Claudia Pina took a pass from Guijarro before placing an exquisite finish into the back of the net.

Paraguay’s Jessica Martinez pulled a goal back in fortuitous style for her first-ever goal in her fourth FIFA tournament appearance, but Guijarro made sure all three points went to Pedro Lopez’s side with two more goals to complete a fine performance by the Atletico Madrid player.

Survival instinct

China PR survived a scare from new girls Haiti, as the Asian side secured a 2-1 win to kick off their FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 campaign with three points.

Haiti, taking their first ever steps at the tournament, began in encouraging fashion.

It was clear from the off that captain Nerilia Mondesir and Melchie Dumonay were going to be central to their hopes going forward, with the latter looking dangerous from set pieces early on.

However, China found their feet on 13 minutes. Qiwen Xie swung in a tantalising cross from the left, which Yujie Zhao did superbly to redirect back across to nestle in the far corner.

While Haiti could look back on their first-half exploits proudly, their second half begun poorly, conceding inside a minute of the restart. Kun Jin found space to play the ball into the danger area and Mengyu Shen made no mistake to punish a sluggish start after the break.

Even though the debutants were not as bright as in the opening period, China failed to kill off the game, leaving the door ajar going into the final stages.

Haiti took advantage, putting Peter Bonde’s side under pressure when a foul in the area by Jiaxing Dou allowed Mondesir to slot home from 12 yards.

It so easily could have been a point for the Caribbean side, too.

The captain nearly doubled her tally with moments to go, only for Linlin Wang’s goal-saving header to deny her on the line having evaded Huan Xu.

Vanquished

Japan edged USA 1-0 in a closely-fought match in Group C at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018, thanks to a stunning, long-range effort by Honoka Hayashi.

The first half was played at a frenetic pace, with both sides threatening the opposition goal on numerous occasions. Japan came closest to scoring the opening goal on the half-hour mark when Hinata Miyazawa sent in a cross that USA failed to clear.

The ball dropped for Saori Takarada, whose initial header hit the American’s crossbar.

Takarada then attempted another header, but USA goalkeeper Laurel Ivory was up to the challenge and made the save.

The Stars and Stripes responded with an effort of their own ten minutes later when Sophia Smith went on a lung-bursting run into the Japanese penalty area, but Hana Takahashi and goalkeeper Hannah Stambaugh were able to thwart Smith’s attempt on goal.

Chances were few and far between in the second half, with USA especially looking cautious in their decision making when in possession.

With just under 15 minutes remaining, it was Japan who were rewarded for taking their opportunity. Midfielder Hayashi unleashed a left-footed shot from well over 30 yards out, with her effort kissing off the crossbar before finding the back of the net – an effort worthy of winning any match.

USA thought they had found a late equaliser, but Riko Ushijima made a well-timed goalline headed clearance to deny them a point in Concarneau.

Hayashi’s stunning goal will no doubt be in contention for the goal of the tournament award, and more importantly, it put three valuable points on the board for the Young Nadeshiko in Group C.