In a new cantera-based series, AtléticoFans are delighted to welcome the Al Kass U17 media team for exclusive images and reports on our Juvenil C side in the Al Kass International Cup in Doha, Qatar.
Atleti are in Group D alongside São Paulo and PSG, who ran out 3-1 winners in the opening match against David García’s young side on Friday. The tournament runs from February 5-15.
Paris Saint-Germain emerged as deserved victors against Atletico Madrid in the first game of Day 2 at Al Kass. After the previous evening’s seven-goal thriller between AC Milan and River Plate, this match had a lot to live up to. And straight from the off the goals were flowing again.
With the game still in its opening minute, PSG forward Wilfride Kanga collected the ball in his own half and embarked on a determined run down the right channel, his rapid progress crudely curtailed by Carlos Lorenzo six yards from the byline. A yellow card was produced as Atletico prepared to defend a cross from the dead ball, but Nanitamo Ikone had other ideas, wrong-footing Madrid keeper Diego Alcolado to hammer home high at the near post direct from the free kick.
From the restart Madrid attempted to get their short passing game going, but found progress difficult against a physically imposing and high pressing PSG, who constantly disrupted their rhythm.
On eight minutes the Parisians won a free kick wide on the left, and Lorenzo Callegari attempted to repeat the feat of Ikone by catching the keeper unawares, this time from considerable distance. He almost succeeded, with Alcolado just managing to tip the effort over.
PSG were establishing their dominance, with Atletico struggling to retain possession in the final third. With space restricted, the Spaniards were becoming increasingly reliant on high balls to relive the pressure – a tactic which played to PSG’s strengths. Madrid were far more effective when keeping the ball down, but were generally unable to make inroads on the PSG defence, with Stanley Naoki excelling at left back.
The teams’ contrasting styles made for an attractive game as PSG often sought to play through the middle, with ‘water carrier’ Callegari at the fulcrum of several of their best moves. Madrid, meanwhile, were looking to work the ball wide, to little effect as Naoki repeatedly cut out crosses at source.
On the half hour mark PSG were awarded a free kick in the same position that they had opened the scoring from. Ikone stepped up again, but this time played the ball short and Atletico cleared.
Faced with a supremely powerful PSG outfit, Atletico struggled to carve out chances, until the final minute of the half when Alejandro Diaz cut inside before being stopped in his tracks by Callegari. The resultant free kick from 30 yards was deflected into the arms of keeper Sebastian Cibois, marking the last action of the first period.
Saint-Germain got the second half underway. Within a minute they were awarded a free kick 10 yards inside the opposition half after Carlos Lorenzo hauled back Kanga, an offence that earned him a yellow card. Madrid cleared the danger but PSG were instantly on the attack again, with Kanga working the ball out to fellow striker Odsonne Edouard on the left corner of the area, who beat his man before firing a low shot in off the far post, his emphatic finish making the score 2-0.
PSG were crowned Al Kass champions in 2013, so it was a major shock when they failed at the group stage last year. Yet, despite this disappointment, their strike partnership was one of the 2014 tournament highlights, and 12 months on their understanding has further improved.
In the 58th minute Edouard and Kanga again combined well, the latter testing Alcolado from close range, who saved well. But if Kanga rued this missed opportunity, he did not let it show, with Atletico’s backline struggling to counter his tenacious approach.
And, as the setting sun cast long shadows across Aspire Zone’s pristine Pitch 5, so Madrid’s hopes began to dim. However, a rare foray forward on 66 minutes brought a penalty claim, as PSG defender Alec Georgen appeared to use his hand to cut out a cross from Pablo Romero. The referee waved Spanish appeals away, and PSG cleared the resulting corner with a minimum of fuss.
Yet it was to Los Cochoneros’ credit that they kept working to try and gain a foothold in the game, and they began to find some traction as the second period wore on. They were rewarded for their persistence on 78 minutes when Miguel Mateos received the ball on the right and made a determined run towards goal. For once, he evaded the challenges of PSG’s formidable defenders, advancing towards the penalty spot before working the ball to Jean Cortes, who shot high to the keeper’s right, reducing the deficit to a single goal.
Atletico’s relief would not last however, as PSG restored their two-goal advantage just three minutes after the restart. Edouard sped down the right before providing a low cross to the outstanding Kanga, who slotted home easily to make it 3-1.
It was cruel on the Atletico youngsters, who had battled so valiantly to find a way back into the game, with PSG’s third goal ending any hopes of a Cochonero comeback.
Nonetheless, Madrid can take heart from a determined display, and will believe they can grind out a result against Sao Paulo on Saturday evening. As for PSG, there is every sign that they are ready to put last year’s setback firmly behind them.
Atlético line-up: Conde; Segura (“57 Gastón), Acosta, Rubén Gómez, Barbero; Jorge García (“86 Medina), Yael (“68 Relucio), Francisco Gómez, Yañez; Parilla (“60 Mario Navarro), De Castro (“86 Silos).
Goals: 1-0 Ikone (“2); 2-0 Edouard (“47); 2-1 Yañez (“78); 3-1 Kanga (“81)
Gallery (credit Al Kass U17 media team)