They may have been beaten 2-0 on the day but Perth Glory’s youngsters can hold their heads high after a resilient performance against Argentine juggernauts Estudiantes de La Plata.
Nicknamed Los Pincharratas (‘the rat stabbers’), Estudiantes capitalised on their possession to fire home twice in the second half, breaking Perth Glory’s hearts after a solid defensive performance.
Carrasco Geronimo Alejandro found the back of the net from a deflected strike from distance, while Bruera Facundo tapped home at close range to cap off the result, despite an offside player setting up the goal for the Argentine youngster.
Argentina is currently ranked first in FIFA’s World Rankings, while Estudiantes themselves have produced several current superstars, including Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo, Valencia’s Pablo Piatti and ex-Paris Saint-Germain winger Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Although Glory was defeated at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor, the squad’s performance showed the team has adjusted to Malaysia’s humid conditions.
Playing in front of ex-Manchester United, Chelsea and Inter Milan midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, the young players put their bodies on the line to stop the Argentines from several goal scoring chances.
Glory goalkeeper Riley Stephenson was also very impressive, making several diving saves to keep the La Plata-based side scoreless for over an hour.
After Estudiantes went 2-0 up, Glory piled on the pressure. Teenager Ignacio Rubina Dominguez almost tapped home from point blank range after meeting Ismail Atak’s pinpoint cross from the left wing. Abias Bukuru almost rounded Estudiantes goal keeper Emilio Gonzalez before teeing up Harry Quigley on the edge of the box, his lofted strike tipped away by Gonzalez’ brilliant diving save.
Overall it was a sound performance by a determined Glory side, who will have taken invaluable experience from mixing it against some of the best teenage footballers in South America.
The result, coupled with Frenz United’s 1-0 win over Korean side Suwon Bluewings, knocks both Perth Glory and Bluewings out of the U18 Frenz International Cup.
Glory will be playing for the third group spot against Suwon at 4pm on Friday afternoon at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor, as both teams look to register their first wins of the tournament.