Iraq beat Chile to finish top
Iraq’s fairy tale FIFA U-20 World Cup has continued with a 2-1 win over Chile that sees them top Group E and stay in Antalya for a last-16 showdown with Paraguay. The Chileans, who fielded a much-weakened team, now face a trip to Bursa to take on Group F winners Croatia.
For all that coach Mario Salas left all his star names on the bench for this encounter, the South Americans performed well and had dominated the early stages when, against the run of play, Iraq took a 15th-minute lead. Predictably, Mohanad Abdulraheem was at the heart of the action, skipping away from his marker on the left and delivering a cross that was deflected perfectly into the path of Mahdi Kamil. Six yards from goal and hardly able to believe his luck, the little striker accepted the gift with a cool left-foot finish.
Chile continued to create openings though, and 13 minutes later they restored parity when Felipe Mora, making his first start of the tournament, headed home an inswinging Oscar Hernandez corner. Mora might have doubled his tally as half-time approached but, having raced through on to a great through ball from Nicolas Maturana, he was denied by a brave stop from Mohammed Hameed.
The Chile No9 was making the most of this rare starting opportunity and he again tested Hameed four minutes into the second half, firing in first time from Sebastian Martinez’s cross to force an agile save from the Iraq No20. However, when the net next bulged, it was the other end and, again, a deflection was involved.
Saif Salman’s 30-yard shot packed plenty of power but it seemed to be heading straight into the arms of Dario Melo before a telling touch off Valber Huerta sent it spinning into the bottom-right corner. That stroke of bad luck must have told Chile that this was not to be their night and, though they threw everything at Iraq in the closing stages, it was not enough to prevent Turkey 2013’s surprise packages claiming yet another scalp.