Sky Blue Trio Play in Thriller

Tommy Oar’s spectacular free kick late in the second half gave the Qantas Young Socceroos a 1-1 draw in their opening Group C encounter of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 against Ecuador in Manizales today.

Tommy Oar-s spectacular free kick late in the second half gave the Qantas Young Socceroos a 1-1 draw in their opening Group C encounter of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 against Ecuador in Manizales today.

Juan Govea gave Ecuador the lead in the 24th minute but the Qantas Young Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Birighitti was outstanding in goal, denying Ecuador from scoring their second goal on numerous occasions. With one minute left on the clock, Oar rocketed home his free kick from 30 metres out to salvage a point for Australia.

The Qantas Young Socceroos almost had a dream start to the match. From the kick off, Mustafa Amini set up a pass to Oar on the left wing. Oar-s looping cross found Kofi Danning unmarked at the back post but Danning blasted his shot high with only the keeper to beat. The Qantas Young Socceroos once again had the chance to open the scoring in the 15th minute. This time Danning-s cross from the right was met by Marc Warren-s header at the back post but was cleared off the line by the Ecuadorian defence.

Ecuador, well known for their counter attacking style of play, opened the scoring in the 24th minute. Marcos Caicedo dribbled past two players on the right to the byline before hitting a low hard shot. Birighitti managed to parry the shot across goal but Govea was first to the rebound as he smashed the ball into the net to give Ecuador the lead. Ecuador had two more opportunities in the first half through Christian Ona and Marlon De Jesus but Birighitti was equal to the task as the Qantas Young Socceroos went into the break one goal down.

The Qantas Young Socceroos defenders were once again tested in the opening period of the second half. First from a Govea-s header in the 48th minute which went just over the bar and the second from a well worked move. Edder Fuertes, De Jesus and Caicedo combining well but De Jesus- low shot, from a difficult angle, went wide.

Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen brought on Bernie Ibini-Isei and Terry Antonis in the 54th minute and 59th minute to replace Mustafa Amini and Ben Kantarovski with Tommy Oar taking on the captain-s role for the remainder of the match. The introduction of Ibini-Isei and Antonis gave the Qantas Young Socceroos the injection of pace and the creativity they needed to open up the Ecuador-s defence.

A run by Ibini-Isei on the right resulted in a corner for the Qantas Young Socceroos in the 76th minute. Oar-s corner was met by Kerem Bulut but Bulut-s header, under pressure, went just over the bar.

With just one minute left in regulation time, the Qantas Young Socceroos were awarded a free kick 30 metres from goal. Tommy Oar stepped up and blasted his left footed free kick into the top right corner of the goal to secure a precious point for Australia.

Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen was happy take the point, but knows that his team did not play to their potential.

“I am happy with the point. But it was not a good game for us. We made it difficult for ourselves. After 30 seconds we could have scored which would have changed the whole game from the beginning.

“The first 15 minutes of the game we played quite well, but after that we lost our grip on the midfield. We weren-t able to play the ball from the back and get the ball into the midfield.

“We began playing long balls, which was not part of our game plan.

"In the second half we changed the dynamics of the midfield. We changed the structure of the midfield, we brought some different qualities to the midfield and I think that changed the game and allowed us to get the point against Ecuador.

“It-s always difficult to play your first game because you don-t know what kind of level you can expect.

“It-s good when you get a result in your first game because that gives you confidence that gives the experience you need for the second game.

When asked about the Qantas Young Socceroos next match against Costa Rica, Versleijen was pragmatic in his approach.

“If you want to qualify for the next stage you need at least four points.

“That means either you have to win one of your next two games. It would be good if we can do that by the end of the second game against Costa Rica.

“I saw the game this afternoon (Costa Rica v Spain).Costa Rica has a very good team so it will be a tough task for us.

“The game against Coast Rica will be a completely different game because of the playing style of Costa Rica. They are a team that likes to play a short passing game. They are good on the short combinations, have some skilful players up front.

“It will be a tough game, but it is our task to study Costa Rica very well, analyse their weak points and try to get the result against them,” concluded Versleijen.

Clearly the man of the moment for the Qantas Young Socceroos was Tommy Oar with his stunning free-kick from 30 metres out.

“Obviously on a personal note I was happy I scored the free kick, but as a team, coming into the game, we were looking for a better result than we got. But I guess we have to take it now and prepare for the game against Costa Rica,” said Oar.

“The Australian mentality is to keep on fighting and I think the all the boys did that and luckily enough we got our reward in the end.

When asked by reporters if it was the best goal of his career, Tommy grinned and simply said “yes, without a doubt”.

In the other group C match Spain defeated Costa Rica 4-1 in an entertaining encounter.

The Qantas Young Socceroos will play their second match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 against Costa Rica on Wednesday 3 August before their final group match against Spain on Saturday 6 August.

The top two teams from each of the groups and the four third placed teams with the highest number of points will then progress to the round of 16 (9 & 10 August). The Quarter-Finals will be played on 13 & 14 August, Semi-Finals on 17 August with the Final and 3rd/4th place play-off on Saturday 20 August.

The Qantas Young Socceroos matches and the Semi-Finals and Final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 will be broadcast live on SBS TV (see www.sbs.com.au for broadcast details).

Match Details:

Qantas Young Socceroos 1 (Tommy OAR 89-) Ecuador U-20-s 1 (Juan GOVEA 24-) FIFA U-20 World Cup - Group C Sunday 31 July Estadio Palogrande, Manizales Referee: Djamel HAIMOUDI (Alg) Assistant Referees: Ayman DEGAISH (Egy) & Foaad EL MAGHRABI (LBY) Fourth Official: Patricio POLIC (CHI) Crowd: 17,077

Qantas Young Socceroos line-up: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 2.Rhyan GRANT, 3.Dylan MCGOWAN, 4.Trent SAINSBURY, 5.Marc WARREN, 6.Ben KANTAROVSKI (c) (8.Terry ANTONIS 59-), 7.Kofi DANNING , 9. Kerem BULUT, 10.Mustafa AMINI (19.Bernie IBINI-ISEI 54-), 11.Tommy OAR, 21.Dimitrios PETRATOS

Substitutes Not Used: 12. Nick FEELY (gk), 13.Matthew FLETCHER, 14. Corey GAMEIRO, 15.Brendan HAMILL, 16.Petar FRANJIC, 17.Sam GALLAGHER, 18.Matthew ACTON (gk), 20.Jake BARKER-DAISH

Yellow Cards: Kantarovski 16- Red Cards: Nil

Ecuador line-up: John JARAMILLO (gk), 2. Mario PINEIDA, 3. John NARVAEZ, 5. Dennis QUINONEZ, 6. Edder FUERTES, 7. Fernando GAYBOR, 9. Marlon DE JESUS (14. Dixon ARROYO 86-), 10. Juan GOVEA (15. Juan CAZARES 82-), 11. Marcos CAICEDO (18. Danny LUNA 79-), 13. Edson MONTANO, 20. Christian ONA

Substitutes Not Used: 4. Wilson MORANTE, 8. ORDONEZ, 12. Johan PADILLA (gk),16. Christian CRUZ, Jorge CUESTA, 19. Bryan DE LA TORRE, 21. Freddy CARCELEN (gk)

Yellow Cards: Narvaez 71-, Red Cards: Nil

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