A spirited Canada side succumbed 3-0 to highly-touted Uruguay on the opening day of Group C play in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Pachuca, Mexico, on Sunday.
Despite stellar play by Montreal Impact Academy goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, the South American side were able to pot three goals in a second half that flattered the winning side.
Juan Cruz Mascia, Guillermo Mendez, and Elbio Alvarez scored for Uruguay, while at the opposite end of the pitch, Jonathan Cubero did well to keep the plucky Canadians off the scoresheet.
The first half saw the Uruguayans jump out on the attack early, as Canada were content to sit back and soak up the pressure from the outset. Some good possession by the South Americans led to the first shot of the match in the seventh minute, which required a good save from Crepeau to keep the teams on level terms.
After allowing their opponents loads of space on the ball in the first ten minutes, Canada looked to hit on the counter using some quick one-touch passing out of the back. In the 13th minute, Toronto FC Academy’s Michael Petrasso found himself on the end of a good build-up by the Canadians, but he could not beat Uruguay goalkeeper Cubero from within the penalty area.
Less than a minute later, it was Petrasso again testing Cubero, this time trying to poke the ball into the net after making a surging run past the Uruguayan defense. Cubero was once again equal to the task, gobbling up the weak shot with ease.
After ten minutes of back-and-forth action, Canada were dangerous again, and at the 25 minute mark, they felt they should have been awarded a penalty. Forward Yassin Essa of Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency darted into the Uruguayan area in pursuit of a deft Keven Aleman chip, and he got tangled up with his defender before hitting the Estadio Hidalgo turf. Match referee Alexey Nikolaev allowed play to continue, and Uruguay promptly cleared the danger.
A few minutes later, Essa was again on the receiving end of an Aleman pass, and this time managed a good shot at the Uruguayan goal, which was dealt with cleanly by Cubero.
After a sustained period of Canadian pressure, Uruguay finished the first half the stronger of the two sides. Five minutes from the break, Elbio Alvarez blasted a hard free kick from 35 yards out, which forced a full-stretch save from Crepeau. A minute later, Juan Manuel San Martin nearly put Uruguay ahead after he pounced on a ball bobbled by Crepeau and put it into the side-netting.
The second half started off much like the first, with both teams looking fairly even. Uruguay opened the scoring in the 52nd minute, with Mascia smashing the ball into the Canadian net after a poor clearance attempt off a corner left the Uruguayan attacker all alone with the ball at the top of the six-yard box.
The South Americans were a bit fortunate to find themselves up, and after the goal, it was Canada who pressed to equalize. At the hour mark, Canadian center back Luca Gasparotto, who out-jumped his defender to meet a free kick from Whitecaps FC Residency's Bryce Alderson, nodded a point-blank header toward goal, which was only kept out by the fingertips of Cubero.
The Canadians would again come close to getting on the scoresheet, as Aleman took two attempts to fire in a low, hard volley from outside the Uruguay penalty area that forced a diving stop from Cubero. Seconds later, Cubero would be called upon again, smothering a loose ball that second-half substitute Omari Morris tried to poke in from less than two yards out.
Unfortunately for Canada, their numerous forays into the attacking third amounted to nothing, and Uruguay would put the result out of reach five minutes from the end. Whitecaps FC Residency defender Adam Polakiewicz, looking to shield a bouncing ball from Guillermo Mendez, ended up pulling down the Uruguay forward in the process, resulting in a penalty kick for the South American side and a yellow card for Polakiewicz. Mendez made no mistake on the ensuing kick, coolly slotting the ball into the upper netting above a sprawling Crepeau.
To add insult to injury, Crepeau - who acquitted himself admirably throughout the match - had to be substituted after an 88th-minute collision with Mascia, as both were chasing down a ball just outside the Canadian 18-yard box.
Crepeau’s replacement, Quillan Roberts, did not fare much better than his predecessor, allowing a very late third goal, as Canada - down 2-0 with almost no time left to play - still looked to attack. Roberts charged off his line to meet a Uruguay counter-attack, but Alvarez beat him to the punch and slid a ball past the onrushing ‘keeper and into the gaping Canadian goal.
Canada will face England in their match on Wednesday night in Pachuca, Mexico, with the English coming off a 2-0 win over Rwanda in the Group C opener on Sunday.