A 2-0 triumph against Dutch side Vitesse was followed up with a convincing 3-0 victory against Chinese outfit Dalian Aerbin on the second day of the competition, taking our overall group points tally to seven after Friday evening’s 1-1 draw with Cruzeiro.
But with Fluminense, who beat us 2-0 in our opening game on Friday, having accumulated the same amount of points, we finished third in the group – and out of the qualifying places – on the head-to-head rule.
“We’ve paid the price for that first performance,” said Academy Manager John McDermott.” It’s unfortunate that the rules of the tournament say that in the event of equal points the head-to-head counts first rather than goal difference, but we knew that going in and we’ve only got ourselves to blame for a very insipid performance against Fluminense.”
Saturday’s action started with a useful win against Vitesse, Harry Winks scoring his second penalty of the tournament after a foul on Kyle Walker-Peters to put us into the lead.
Vitesse enjoyed a good spell of possession in the second half and hit the woodwork, but a fine goal on the counter-attack from Kenny McEvoy in the closing moments secured a 2-0 win.
“We continued where we left off in yesterday’s game against Cruzeiro,” John said. “We dominated the game, especially in the first half when we were excellent and we enjoyed probably our best 20 minutes of the trip.
“The second half was slightly closer, Vitesse were more aggressive and played more on the front foot but we were still very comfortable. We rode our luck a bit as the second half went on and then scored a very good counter-attack goal right at the end.”
McEvoy was back on the scoresheet as we faced Dalian Aerbin later in the day, finishing at the far post after an acrobatic effort from Alex McQueen was deflected into his path. Emmanuel Sonupe then drilled inside the near post to double our lead before Daniel Akindayini completed a 3-0 victory.
“The game was very convincing and very one-sided,” concluded John, whose side will now face Feyenoord in the fifth/sixth placed play-off match on Sunday afternoon.