KOLKATA: Mexico recovered from a goal down to hold Iraq 1-1 in their opening Group F encounter of the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Sunday.
Mexico exerted pressure right from the start while Iraq took time to settle. Nevertheless, Iraq had a clear look at the Mexico goal in the 7th minute as skipper Mohammed Ridha leaped high to meet Moamel Kareem’s cross but the midfielder’s header moved over the cross bar.
The North Amerian nation, on the other hand, were creating some fantastic openings but their attackers ran short of ideas on reaching the Iraq territory.
Having created some half chances till the quarter hour mark, Iraq took the lead in the 16th minute as Mohammed Dawood found himself clear inside the box and slotted past Mexico keeper Cesar Lopez.
The goal gave Iraq a morale boost as they began pushing up in numbers. A few good chances fell for Dawood and Ali Kareem but they lacked the killer finish inside the box.
Meanwhile, Mexico came close of finding the equalizer through Daniel Lopez and Alexis Gutierrez, however, the Iraq defense managed to hold on as the first half end 1-0.
The change of ends brought a change in fortune for Mexico as Roberto De La Rosa rifled home the equalizer in the 51st minute from Daniel’s cross.
The goal inspired Mexico to get even more offensive in their approach and they nearly took the lead in the 62nd minute when Daniel failed to keep his header low after receiving a cross from Jairo Torres.
Iraq though created many chances but failed to regain the lead, as they failed to stick to their passing game policy. The players seemed to be more keen on playing direct football sending long balls from the centre-line.
The Iraqis had a golden opportunity to surge ahead when Abdulabbas Ayad got into a good position but he held the ball little too long to ultimately make a mess out of the situation.
Mexico battled hard towards the end looking for a winner, but Iraq managed to hold on defending deep to earn their first ever points in FIFA U-17 World Cup.