BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, AP
Two of the three favorites opened FIFA’s 13th World Youth Championship with victories Sunday as Argentina beat Finland 2-0, Brazil beat Germany 2-0 and the United States lost to China 1-0. In later matches Sunday, it was: Egypt 0, Jamaica 0; Iraq 3, Canada 0; and Chile 2, Ukraine 4. Argentina, trying to win a record fourth youth world championship, started strong. A Maximiliano Rodriguez free kick in the 37th minute and an Andres D’Alessandro goal in the 59th minute enabled the hosts to beat Finland. The star-studded Argentines had two good scoring opportunities in the first 10 minutes. Mauro Cetto flicked a header wide and minutes later Esteban Herrera was denied by Finland goalkeeper Otto Frederikson. Finland pressured in the 14th minute as a deft attack by attack by Mikael Forssell showed the Scandinavians were not here just for fun. As the minutes ticked by, the visitors gradually settled into their game, defending with numbers and looking to hit the home side on the counterattack. Argentina now sits atop Group A with 3 points. Egypt, which missed a penalty kick in the 63rd minute as Jamaica held on for the scoreless draw, and Jamaica are tied for second with one point each. Egypt dominated the first half against a sluggish Jamaican side, narrowly missing a chance at goal in the 15th minute when Ahmed Abou Moslem swept down the left and drove a shot across the mouth of the goal that flew wide. The best scoring opportunity for the Egyptians came from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute after Jamaican defender Shawn Frasier uprooted an Egyptian striker. But Gamal Hamza missed the penalty, pulling it far left of the post. In Mendoza, a 50th minute goal by Bo Qu allowed China to sink the United States with a surprise defeat in the opening Group C match. Qu broke into the area in one of China’s first attacks of the second half and, shrugging off a U.S. defender, drove the ball past goalkeeper Delvin Countess with ease. Mainland China took the first stab at goal in the fourth minute with a curling shot from the left wing by Liang Xu. The U.S. looked promising in the midfield its passing was very shoddy as it approached the Chinese area. The Americans’ only genuine attempt to score in the first half came in the 31st minute with a low driving shot by Landon Donovan, which went narrowly wide to the right. “I think we’re here to reach the next round,” said U.S. coach Wolfgang Suhnholz, who did not appear too upset by the defeat. “We have two games left and I’m very confident.” Ukraine got off to a superb debut, trouncing Chile in Group C. Ukraine and China share the top spot, but Ukraine leads the group on goal difference. Oleckcii Byelik fired the first goal home for Ukraine in the 15th minute, pummeling a shot past a Chilean goalkeeper Johnny Herrera from just inside the area. Andriy Gerasimenko made it 2-0 in the 36th minute with a shot from two meters (yards) off the back left line. Byelik scored again in the 50th minute and Ruslan Valeev netted the fourth in the 78th minute. Rodrigo Millar and Sebastian Pardo scored Chile’s two goals. In Cordoba, Robert scored two-first half goals to lead Brazil over Germany as the South American champions kicked off play in Group B. Robert notched goals in the 10th and 21st minutes as the Brazilians opened with an impressive offensive attack highlighted by quick-touch passing and multiple first-half chances at goal. Brazil seemed unfazed by the absence of striker Ewerton, who along with Adriano led the heavily favored Brazilians through the South American qualifying series. Minutes after the opening whistle, Robert finished off a header from Pinga to give the three-time tournament champions an early advantage. Robert extended Brazil’s lead 10 minutes later, taking advantage of a miscue by German goalkeeper Tom Starke. In the group’s other match, Iraq capitalized on a sluggish Canadian defense for a 3-0 win. Rhid Emad, Tahir Aldeen and Hanoosh Ammar each scored first-half goals as Iraq surprised the reigning North and Central American champions by opening offensive-minded. With the win, Iraq shares first place in the group with Brazil. Brazil and Iraq will meet on Wednesday while Canada faces Germany.