U17: Croatia and USA share the spoils
Croatia completed a second-half come back after being 2-0 down at half-time to share the points with USA in a 2-2 draw to keep Group A at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile wide open.
Christian Pulisic’s opening goal and Brandon Vasquez’s goal five minutes before half-time sent the Americans full of confidence into the break, but Karlo Majic’s second-half strike and Luka Ivanusec’s equaliser in the 77th minute brought Croatia level to deservedly take a point.
The European side came out flying and were unlucky not to score in the opening minutes with a number of chances missing the goal by inches, with USA goalkeeper William Pulisic forced to make an impressive save to deny Josip Brekalo. The Americans would find their rhythm soon after, though, and were particularly dangerous on the counter-attack.
Some last ditch defending by Vinko Soldo kept it scoreless, but 24 minutes in USA found the back of the net. Lucas de la Torre orchestrated a quick USA counter and fed Pulisic on the left who only had to remain composed and slot the ball past Adrian Semper into the far corner, which he did so comfortably.
An unmarked Vasquez should have doubled the Americans’ lead after another great attack down the left with a simple tap-in but he could not convert from six yards. The No19 redeemed himself a minute later though to put the Stars and Stripes 2-0 up before the break. Pulisic was the provider and his cross found Vasquez in the middle of Croatia’s area and his header beat Semper, who could not react quickly enough to keep it out.
Karlo Majic pulled one back for Croatia 20 minutes into the second-half after a defensive miscue, firing home from eight yards. 12 minutes later the Europeans equalised with some excellent work from Brekalo in the build-up, who then passed to Ivanusec for an easy finish.
The Croatians were firmly in control in the final stages and were unlucky not to find a winner, including their final two shots on goal seconds before the final whistle hitting the post and then the crossbar.
“I can’t explained what happened in the second half. In the first we scored twice and had some other chances, but above all we were able to keep control of the ball. I don’t think my players were over-confident at 2-0, but they lost their composure: you can’t defend a whole match against a team as good as that and who put that much pressure on you like Croatia. At the end, not everything is bad, we have one point and we can still advance,” Richie Willams, USA coach.
“If you offered the draw at half time, I would have taken it. But after how we played the second half, we deserved the victory. In the first time we defended poorly and they scored two goals out of three shoots, but we had our chances. Then we asked for the heart of our players and they responded with personality and also with talent. Either you believe or not in luck, today it was not on our side,” Dario Basic, Croatia coach.
Source : FIFA