Joeys fight back but cannot recover against Ecuador in FIFA U-17 World Cup opener

A strong second-half performance was not enough to rescue the Joeys as Ecuador claimed a 2-1 win on the opening day of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Two goals in the opening nine minutes cost Australia at the Estádio Olímpico in Goiânia, Brazil, despite a spirited response from Trevor Morgan’s boys.

Australia controlled 54% of possession and piled forward in search of a lifeline, which finally arrived in the 90th minute when Noah Botic fired into the roof of the Ecuador net.

Morgan's side threw everything at the South Americans in the closing moments but could not recover as Ecuador were left clinging on to take three points.

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The Green and Gold faced early adversity when Erick Pluas’ strike from the edge of the box took an unfortunate deflection off Izaack Powell and skidded past goalkeeper Adam Pavlesic in the fourth minute.

The South Americans doubled their lead five minutes later when Pedro Vite snuck behind Australia’s backline and his angled shot flew in off the outstretched leg of Sydney FC’s Anton Mlinaric.

Australia responded positively and, after Sporting Club de Portugal attacker Tristan Hammond came close to reducing the deficit in the 15th minute, Morgan’s side grew into the first half.

Botic thought he had handed the Joeys a route back on 52 minutes but the forward, who plays with Hoffenheim in Germany, had strayed marginally offside from captain Ryan Teague’s through pass.

Substitute Cameron Peupion was denied by Ecuador goalkeeper Joan López from close range on 70 minutes, and again from a stinging 85th-minute free-kick.

Botic finally pierced the Ecuador rearguard as the clock ticked past 90 minutes but the clock ran out on the comeback effort.

Australia will regroup before facing Hungary on Wednesday, 30 October and Nigeria on Saturday, 2 November in Group B.

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