MALDONADO, November 20, 2018 — It was neither the day of happiness and joy, nor a day for tears and drama. It had to be a game of decency and honour and the crowd in Maldonado made it happen.
The fans sang the national anthems loudly before cheering and screaming for their girls one last time. It was a respectful atmosphere for two teams in hosts Uruguay and newcomers Finland who knew they were already out of the U-17 Women’s World Cup before the game started.
The 1-1 draw did not matter as much as the performance of the 2,093 attendance.
In Group A on Tuesday, Ghana and New Zealand made it to the quarter-finals while Uruguay and Finland’s journey was over after this group stage. The host of the tournament failed to win any of their three games so there was disappointment. But they fought and ran until the last minute and went home with heads held high.
It was also a tournament goodbye to the city of Maldonado.
Uruguay dominated their last game from kickoff. The crowd chanted: “Uruguay, Uruguay!“ and clapped in rhythm for the early efforts of Deyna Morales and Micaela Dominguez. Gradually the Suomi freed themselves from the steady Uruguayan attacks though it was not until the 31st minute that Annika Huhta generated their first shot.
Finland made a perfect start to the second half with a 52nd-minute goal from Aino Vuorinen, assisted Huhta and Jenni Kantanen.
The fans responded again with more “Uruguay!“ hand-clapping encouragement and their team delivered. Belen Aquino twice shot into the hands of the keeper before, finally, Esperanza Pizarro’s powerful shot rewarded her team with the equalising goal.
On went the cheering, a vocal endorsement for the women‘s game in the Land of football – which was an important success for the Uruguayan U-17s even though they did not make it to the knockout stage.