Spain outclass Iran to enter semis

Spain outclass Iran to enter semis

European champions Spain produced a quality exhibition of tiki-taka as they decimated Iran 3-1 to reach the semifinals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Sunday.

Spain, one of the pre-tournament favourites, completely dominated the quarterfinal match as their one-touch passing game proved to be too good for the Asian giants, who were completely outplayed on the day.

Captain Abel Ruiz gave Spain the lead in the 13th minute before Sergio Gomez (60th) and Ferran Torres (67th) added a goal each.

For Iran, Saeid Karimi pulled one back in the 69th minute at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium.

Spain, seeking their maiden title, now meet African champions Mali in Navi Mumbai in the second semifinal on October 25.

This will be Spain’s sixth appearance in the last four on the ninth time of asking. The La Rojita were runners-up in 1991, 2003 and 2007 and finished third in 1997 and 2009.

Spain were the overwhelmingly dominant side today with nearly 70 percent possession. They had seven shots on target while Iran barely had any clear chance except for one in the closing stages of the match.

But for some fine saves by their goalkeeper Ali Gholam Zadeh, Iran would have lost by a bigger margin. Zadeh was busy all day as Spain made waves of attacks through their fast- paced passing football.

Valencia youth team winger Ferran Torres, who has been on the radar of Barcelona and Real Madrid, created a lot of problems for Iran throughout the match with his speedy runs and crosses from the right flank.

It was a completely different and unusually defensive Iran not looking like a side, who were unbeaten till Sunday.

They sorely missed suspended striker Younes Delfi who had scored twice in Iran shock upset of formidable Germany in the group stage.

Swift play

Spain, who had several players from the world famous academies of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, would build their attacks through their flowing passing and the Iranians could not even touch the ball for long spells.

One such spell resulted to the first goal, which came after 26 uninterrupted touches by the Spaniards from which captain Ruiz scored. It was his fourth goal of the tournament.

Torres got the better of his marker in the right flank and sent a long cross for Sergio Gomez who, in turn, gave a square pass to Ruiz at the center of the Iran box.

Barcelona youth team striker Ruiz’s first shot hit a defender built from the rebound he made no mistake with his right footer finding the left side of the Iran net with a diving goalkeeper unable to reach the ball.

A flowing start to the second half saw Spain push for a second goal. At the hour mark, another Barcelona youth team player Sergio Gomez took the game out of Iran’s reach with a spectacular strike from well outside the box that hit the underside of the crossbar and went into the net.

Iran pressed forward in search of a goal and that left spaces behind for Spain to make further inroads. In one such flowing move, Mohamad Moukhliss delivered an inch-perfect low cross from the right which Torres simply tapped in to make it 3-0 in the 67th minute.

Iran did get their goal two minutes later when a long ball from defence met the head of Allahyar Sayyad whose diagonal flick found Karimi who nodded home.

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