Canada 0-3 Argentina: World Cup dreams shattered

Canadian Soccer Association

Canada's hopes of reaching the World Cup knockout stages came to a screeching halt against Argentina as the South Americans finally hit their stride and cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win to claim top spot in Group E.

For the first time in this Under-17 FIFA World Cup Argentina put together a convincing effort.  The bad news for Canada was that it came at the expense of their hopes of reaching the Round of 16.  Canada certainly played their role in the result though as they invited the Argentines to attack with far too many turnovers in their own defensive third.

The Canadians managed to live dangerously for most of the first half with Marco Carducci only having to make a few routine saves in the goal.  They created a few chances of their own including a shot/cross by Hanson Boakai that was sent across the front of goal but missed Andrew Gordon and the far post before going out for a goal kick.

Canada would eventually be punished for their sloppy play in the closing stages of the first half as they got caught having too many players forward allowing the Argentines to counter into space.  A simple run inside drew Eric Davies inside of the wing leaving Ibanez unmarked on the edge of the penalty area allowing the Argentine winger to take his time and blast a shot across goal that Carducci could do little about.

It was a crushing blow for the Canadians to concede just moments before the half-time break but they were punished for the fact that some of the players already seemed to be in the dressing room rather than hurrying back to try and defend after their own attack led to nothing.  It was the kind of simple mistake that they had been getting away with a lot in this event but this time Argentina punished them for it.

Just on the other side of the half things got even worse for Canada as Argentina doubled their advantage on nearly the first kick of the second half.  The goal came off a simple throw-in which was worked into crossing position by Argentina.  The cross was a good one and made its way toward Carducci's back post where it was met by Sanchez who did well to out jump his man and place his header where the keeper was not going to get anywhere near it.

Canada did show some fight to try and come back into the match but the chances never came to anything.  It was just a lot of speculative efforts over the bar or wasted attacks.  Argentina nearly added a third goal when they hit the back of the net but thankfully the flag came up for offside keeping the score a 2-0 and allowing Canada's slim hopes to live on.

The best chance Canada had to try and half the deficit came when Jordan Hamilton was played in on goal by Matthew Chow but he seemed to wind up caught in two minds and rather than firing a shot or round the keeper he all but handed the ball to the keeper.

Canada's hopes of getting anything were fully extinguished in the 75th minute when Sanchez scored his second goal of the game.  This time it was a lovely effort from outside the top of the area which was curled into the top corner of the Canadian goal.

It could have gotten worse for Canada in the closing minutes if not for a big save by Carducci or an intervention from the crossbar it would have been an even more lopsided result.  By the end, things were so comfortable for Argentina that their head coach had time to enjoy a nice lollipop while sitting on the bench.

The final score was 3-0 which means they finish the Group Stage in 3rd place with 2 draws and 1 defeat.  The bad news for Canada is that their two points is not enough to advance as one of the top four third place finishers.  Group E will be represented in the knockout stages by Argentina and Iran.

For Canada they will look back on the first two games and feel that if they had managed to take the full three points from either Austria or Iran it would have completely changed the complexion of the entire group.  Leaving themselves needing three points against a strong Argentine side was always going to be a very difficult way to try and advance.

To the credit of the Canadians they did come out and try to play with against Argentina but they were undone by some sloppy mistakes and eventually the superior quality of their opposition prevailed.  The story of the tournament for Canada will be the missed chances that they had in the first two games but there is still plenty about this performance that they can take pride in.

They may not have made history at this World Cup by picking up Canada's first win or making it to the knockout round but they put in three good efforts and tried to play an attacking game rather than just hoping to steal results by defending hard and counting on set pieces.  There will be lots to build on now going forward but the key will be finding situations where these players can continue to develop and progress not only to the Under-20 team but beyond that as well.

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