Mexico's Ivan Ochoa celebrates scoring a goal against Italy during their FIFA U-17 World Cup Round of 16 match on October 28, 2013, at the Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UAE – Mexico moved one step closer in a bid to repeat as FIFA U-17 World Cup champion, beating Italy, 2-0, in the Round of 16 on Monday at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.
Alejandro Diaz and Ivan Ochoa scored for El Tri, which advance to the quarterfinals to face either Brazil or Russia on Friday in Dubai.
Diaz scored his second goal of the competition in the 26th minute, catching Italian goalkeeper Simone Scuffet off his line and burying the ball into the net from 28 yards to give Mexico a 1-0 lead.
Scuffet was again caught out of his net in the second minute of second-half stoppage time as Ochoa won the ball at the top of the 18-yard box with a slide tackle. Christian Tovar then sent a cross in front, where Ochoa easily tapped the ball into the empty net to clinch the victory for Mexico, which won the competition on home soil in 2011.
Italy, which finished second in Group B, had a pair of quality chances early to take the lead, but Antonio Romano’s free kick from distance in the 16th minute was parried over the crossbar by Mexican goalkeeper Raul Gudino, who also came off his line to save Alberto Cerri’s attempt eight minutes later.
Gudino also came off his line to punch the ball away in the 39th minute. Romano latched onto it and sent a header from distance toward the empty net, but it bounced off the far post. Luca Vido’s rebound was off target.
In the 58th minute, Italian forward Michael Fabbro latched onto a cross from Ivan De Santis and needed two swipes to make contact with the ball, only to roll wide of the far post.
Scuffet made an acrobatic save to rob Marco Granados from point-blank range in the 72nd minute. The Azzurri went on a quick counter, but Gudino easily saved Matteo Lomolino’s attempt from 17 yards.
The Mexican keeper made his best save in the 90th minute, getting his right hand on an attempt by Fabbro. The rebound went to Vittorio Parigini, but Erick Aguirre blocked his attempt.
A pair of Mexican defenders blocked shots during a wild scramble inside the 18-yard box in the second minute of stoppage time as Italy desperately pressed for the equalizer. The Tricolor, though, cleared the danger and Ochoa added the insurance goal on the other end to put Mexico through.