Spain beat Mali to enter final

27 October, 2017, 01:01 | Author: Colin Gill

England and Spain have set up a tantalising clash in the final of the 2017 Federation Internationale de Football Association U-17 World Cup after both advanced from their respective semi-finals played yesterday.

Gelabert played Ruiz through with a fine ball and Ruiz duly side-footed it into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 at the cusp of half-time. Their demolition of Iran - who had been unbeaten in the tournament - will be a cause for concern for Mali.

The first quarter of the intriguing tie saw both continental champions test the respective defensive forces as Sergio Gomez and Lassana N'Diaye came close to slotting in the opening goal for their sides.

Spain had a dominant first half as they took a two-goal lead.

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This game is hard to call. Spain too have enough motivation: for all the trophies won by the senior team, they are yet to win a U-17 World Cup in eight appearances.

In what was touted to be a battle between Spain's finesse and Mali's force, the Europeans swept aside their Malian opponents with classy counter-attacking football. In the semi, they rode Ruiz' brace and a goal from Ferran Torres to beat Mali 3-1. When Brazil dominated proceedings in their first group game, Torres - who got an assist on the night - provided an outlet for his team to breathe. Mali kept pressing but Spain were calm in the work all around. That question will be constantly asked of their towering centre back Abdoulaye Diaby. Mali's top-scorer of the tournamen converted at the near post after going through one-on-one with the keeper.

Spain were losing finalists in 1991, 2003 and 2007 against Ghana, Brazil and Nigeria respectively.

The goal was his fifth of the tournament for the African champions. Mali should have got their reward in the 59 minute as Doucoure's stinging shot from distance zoomed past Alvaro, hit the underside of the crossbar, bounced past the goal line and came back out. Spain's Abel Ruiz is just behind with four.



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