U-20 favorite Spain trounces U.S. in opener, 4-1

Gerard Deulofeu (right) celebrates after scoring Spain's second goal against the U.S. in the first half.

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Spain showed why it is favored to win the Under-20 World Cup by beating the United States 4-1 on Friday in its opener after doubles from star strikers Jese and Gerard Deulofeu.

France also turned in a strong performance in the other Group A match, scoring two second-half goals within four minutes to win 3-1 against Ghana.

Spain opened the scoring when Deulofeu fires a shot across the goal mouth and Jese volleyed the ball into the net in the fifth minute.

The Americans could have leveled in the 13th but Joaquin Hernandez shot wide when faced with an open net. The U.S. team controlled the tempo for the next 15 minutes but could only contain Spain's strikers for so long.

Deulofeu received the ball outside the area, sidestepped a defender and sent a blistering shot just beyond goalkeeper Cody Cropper to make it 2-0 in the 42nd. The European champions caught the defense sleeping two minutes later.

Javier Manquillo made a great run, passed to Jese, who was lurking in the area, and the Real Madrid striker scored his second goal just before halftime.

Spain seemed to content to sit back for much of the second half, but again its counterattack paid dividends. Deulofeu received a long ball, got around Cropper and scored his second.

The Americans pulled one back when Luis Gil scored from just outside the area in the 77th.

France, which lost to Spain in the semifinals of the Under-19 European Championship, showed it has the attack to go far in the tournament.

After Ghana missed several early chances, France dominated the Group A encounter for much of the second period. The French hit the post in the 51st minute before Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia put the team ahead with a header in the 65th. Three minutes later, Kondogbia chipped a nifty pass into the area for Auxerre striker Yaya Sanogo to shoot between the legs of goalkeeper Eric Antwi.

France forward Jean Christophe Bahebeck scored a third in 79th, before Ghana substitute Yiadom Boakye pulled one back in the 85th.

"Today, we were lacking a lot of things. We had a very average game but in the end we won 3-1,'' France coach Pierre Mankowski said. "So I told the boys it was important to win because it was the first game. Clearly we can enhance our game, and in fact we have to be stronger for the next games.''

Mankowski was full of praise for Kondogbia and Sanogo for wreaking havoc on Ghana's defense, using their size and quickness to outflank the smaller defenders and to get to loose balls in the area. Sanogo has shown the most improvement since he spent a year playing for Sevilla, Mankowski said.

"Now he understands the right moment to try and score, the moments to make a difference,'' Mankowski said. "When he is good on the pitch, the team is good.''

Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh, who managed his side to the 2009 title, blamed the loss on several defensive lapses and missed chances when his team dominated in the first 20 minutes.

"It's not good that we lost but I believe there were a few things there we could take home,'' he said. "We had a wonderful first half, but we were a little bit sloppy midway in the second. We also conceded that early goal. That created a lot of problems for us. We finished the game stronger and that is positive.''

Security has been stepped up at all seven sites following weeks of sometimes violent protests after riot police cracked down on environmental activists who opposed plans to remove trees and develop Gezi Park in Istanbul. But the protests this week have given way to peaceful resistance, and there were no signs of protesters Friday at the Ali Sami Yen Arena.

Instead, the problem was a lack of spectators. The match only attracted 2,800 fans, leaving much of the 50,000-seat stadium empty. That confirmed FIFA's fears ahead of the tournament that tickets were selling too slowly, with only 300,000 of the 1.3 million tickets sold.

South Korea came from a goal down to beat tournament newcomer Cuba 2-1 in the Group B opener. Reyes opened the scoring for Cuba in the seventh minute, only for the Asian champions to score twice in the second half. Kwon Chang-hoon scored a penalty in the 51st, and Rey Seung-woo hit the winner in the 83rd.

In other Group B match, Portugal led 2-0 over Nigeria, only for Ajagun to score twice within 10 minutes to draw the African side level. But Bruma added a second in the 69th to give the Portugese the win.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.