SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – A second-half brace by Deyna Castellanos lifted Venezuela over host Costa Rica 3-0 in the Group A opener for both in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup at the Estadio Nacional on Saturday.
Castellanos broke a scoreless stalemate four minutes into the second half. After taking a ball off the bounce that was cut back into the box by Daniuska Rodriguez, the 14-year-old coolly deposited it into the net from 10-yards out past Costa Rican goalkeeper Yolian Salas, who charged off her line.
Three minutes later, Castellanos made it 2-0 by collecting a deflected ball in the box, cutting inside of her defender and beating Salas inside the left post with a low shot from 10 yards.
After sustained pressure by Costa Rica resulted in Sofia Varela hitting the woodwoork, Venezuelan captain Lourdes Moreno iced the victory, sensationally lobbing Salas from 35 yards two minutes from full time.
The Central Americans endeavored to pull a goal back in the 66th minute as Gloriana Villalobos eluded her defender down the line and crossed into the box for Varela, whose effort was off target.
Emilie Valenciano put her 73rd minute a free kick from 32 yards out over the Venezuelan wall and into the hands of goalkeeper Franyely Rodriguez.
In the 80th minute, Valenciano’s attempt from distance was parried away by Rodriguez for a corner.
Venezuela had the best scoring chance in an entertaining first half, when Salas was forced off her line to challenge a tapped shot by Castellanos in the 26th minute. Lourdes Moreno collected the rebound and fired at the net. Fabiola Villalobos, however, was well positioned to clear the ball off the line.
Five minutes later, Varela latched onto Gloriana Villalobos’ cross only to see her header sail over the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, Salas parried away an eight-yard shot by Gabriella Garcia for a corner, one of seven in the first half for Venezuela.
Salas was again tested in the 38th minute, but she made a diving save on another attempt by Castellanos.
Both teams are back in action Tuesday when Costa Rica faces Italy and Venezuela meets Zambia in a doubleheader in San Jose.
Earlier in Group A, Italy defeated Zambia, 2-0, on an Annamaria Serturini brace.