Ecuador sealed a place in the knock out phase of the U-20 World Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Costa Rica in Pereira on Saturday evening and will now face France in the last sixteen.
Sixto Vizuete’s men got off to a flying start when Bryan De La Torre – in for the disappointing Juan Govea – exchanged passes with John Narvaez, burst past a defender into the area and aimed a low shot goalwards that was saved by the feet of the goalkeeper only to rebound off Edson Montano and into the back of the net.
Ecuador doubled their advantage 13 minutes in when Marlon de Jesus powerfully headed home a De La Torre corner and went on to control the remainder of the first half, keeping possession well and maintaining a solid defensive shape that limited the passing options available to the Costa Ricans.
It was a similar story after the break, and the three points were sealed in Ecuador’s favour on 69 minutes when Marcos Caicedo slipped a nicely weighted pass through the middle of the Costa Rican defence for de Jesus to run onto and finish superbly into the corner of the net for his second and Ecuador’s third.
Ecuador’s back-line were very impressive throughout, maintaining a good shape and defending well, both on the floor and aerially. De La Torre was a constant menace in the first half, but was substituted just past the hour after a quieter start to the second period. Caicedo showed plenty of pace to get to the byline, but his vision and decision making need some work. The strike pairing of Montano and de Jesus were accomplished once more, although it was de Jesus who made the bigger impression. Strong, with a good touch, awareness of his surroundings, aerially commanding and a good finisher, the Deportivo Quito striker’s name is sure to adorn many of the scouting reports wheeling their way back to Europe as we write.
The only major downsides for Ecuador were their goalkeeper John Jaramillo’s continuing penchant for making the easiest saves look difficult by over elaboration, and that Dixon Arroyo, whilst solid defensively, lacked the crispness of pass displayed by the suspended Christian Ona previously.
Next up for Ecuador is France on Wednesday (10th), while their fellow Andean nation, and hosts, Colombia will face the defeated Costa Ricans on Tuesday (9th).
Goals from Ecuador 3 – 0 Costa Rica