JUNE 1 (Sporting Alert) — USA blanked host nation New Zealand 4-0 for their second win at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup at the North Harbour Stadium in Auckland on Tuesday.
A brace from Rubio Rubin and one each from Emerson Hyndman and Paul Arriola guided the Americans to the big victory that also sees them qualifying for the round of last 16 with one game remaining on their Group A schedule.
Rubin tapped home from close range to give USA the lead in the sixth minute before captain Hyndman doubled the lead shortly after the half-hour mark, following some poor goalkeeping from New Zealand’s Oliver Sail.
Sail failed to handle a long ball that was flicked on into the penalty box, which allowed Hyndman to fire home the loose ball into an empty net.
The hosts, who played to a 0-0 draw with Ukraine in their tournament opener last week, never recovered after that.
USA added two more goals in the second half.
Arriola fired home off the post in the 58th minute to make it 3-0 and then Rubin added his second of the game seven-minutes from time after some poor defending again by the Kiwis.
The win lifts the American to six points and top of Group A, while New Zealand are third with one point.
“I’m very happy with the team and happy that we got through the first two games,” USA head coach Tab Ramos said. “The team did a good job today.
“I think we played relaxed, the combination of players we have on the field is a good one. We wanted to find space in between the opposing lines and created a lot of options.”
He added: “The first game was difficult, this one was not easier. As a nation we normally don’t progress so quickly, so we are obviously very happy about that.”
As expected, defeated coach Darren Bazeley wasn’t happy with the result.
“Today didn’t go as we wanted it to,” Bazeley revealed. “We conceded a goal early, that hurt us and made the game very hard for us.”
Bazeley believes his team can still qualify from the group, but will need to win the last group fixture against bottom placed team Myanmar, who were hammered on the day by Ukraine.
“We came into the World Cup to win games and go through to the next round. But we are still in a good position now,” he said.
“If we win the last game, we are at four points and should go through to the next round. The USA has very, very good players.
“It is a massive challenge for us, if you come up against a country like the USA with those players, that were quite impressive today. To compete at this level, you need to be mistake free and have to have a very good day.”
The other Group A fixture saw Ukraine routing debutants Myanmar 6-0 at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei to move within a point of making the U-20 World Cup last 16.
After a goalless opening 45-minutes, The Blue and Yellows took command of the game — scoring six goals in 26-minutes to beef-up their goal-difference and last 16 chances.
Viktor Kovalenko scored twice and Valerii Luchkevych, Roman Yaremchuk, Eduard Sobol and Artem Biesiedin all finished with one goal apiece in the comfortable victory.
“I’m very pleased with the game and the result,” said Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov, who admitted he thought about making chances at half-time with the score locked at 0-0.
“I had planned to bring [Valerii] Luchkevych at half-time ahead of the game, as we were lacking speed.
“We had agreed that he would start the second half and he really improved our game. Like in the New Zealand game, we struggled to score our chances in the first half, but this clearly changed after the break.
“That’s why we play football, to make people happy.”
At the other end, a disappointing Gerd Zeise believes the game against USA took everything out his Myanmar players, while adding that they had no answers for their European opponents.
“Obviously we only had the power for one match,” Zeise said. “The European teams play in another league and we cannot follow.
“We are too blind and we do not have the experience, that’s absolutely clear. It was a disaster and this tournament has come too early for us.
“We cannot follow these teams, no chance. My team was too poor. It was just like the USA game, in the first 15-20 minutes of the second-half we gave the game away.
“We must be realists, the party is over. I must apologise to the Myanmar fans, I am responsible for this disaster, but I can’t turn a cyclist into a racing driver.”
Two other games were played on Tuesday, with Ghana downing one of the World Cup favourites Argentina and Austria topping Panama in Group B action.
Ghana, who finished third in the last tournament in 2013, scored the game’s first three goals through Benjamin Tetteh, Clifford Aboagye and a penalty from Yaw Yeboah to take a 3-0 lead with 21-minutes left in the game.
The then held off Argentina for a 3-2 win in Wellington.
Giovanni Simeone and Emiliano Buendia scored two late goals from the La Albiceleste, but it was little too late.
“We don’t like to lose, nor are we used to it, but we’re still alive and we still have a chance in this tournament,” said Argentina coach Humberto Grondona. “Now we have to focus on the positives.
“It was good to see that we didn’t give up and managed to close the gap to 3-2 after going 3-0 down. I must admit that Ghana really surprised us, and now we’ve got to win the next match.”
Winning Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh said: “I’m very happy with today’s match. I was particularly pleased with Samuel Tetteh – but football is and will always be a team effort.
“Our minimum target is still to reach the semi-finals, and it won’t be difficult to achieve that if we can continue to deliver the kind of performance we produced today.”
Elsewhere, in Group B, an own goal from Chin Hormechea in the 45th minute and Valentin Grubeck added another in the 52t minute and Austria beat Panama, 2-1.