SPORTS | Who will be crowned FIFA U-17 World Cup Champions?
The FIFA U-17 World Cup will have a new champion as England and Spain will take on each other in the summit clash of the 17th edition of the tournament in Kolkata tonight in a first ever all-European final.
England sent three-time champions Brazil packing in a 3-1 victory in Kolkata to reach their maiden final while their fellow European side Spain beat last edition's runner-up side Mali by an identical margin in Mumbai.
This is the first time England will play in the final in their fourth attempt. Spain will also be gunning for their maiden title after finishing runners-up thrice in 1991, 2003 and 2007.
The grand finale at the Salt Lake Stadium on October 28 will be a repeat of the European U-17 Championships in Croatia in May when Spain had emerged champions by beating the 'Three Lions' 4-1 in penalty shootout after both sides were locked 2-2 after regulation time.
The England versus Spain final will be the first time two European sides meet in a final match of FIFA U-17 World Cup. This will also be the third time two countries from the same confederations will meet in the final. In the earlier two editions, two African countries have faced each other in the final (Nigeria vs Ghana in 1993 edition in Japan and Nigeria vs Mali in 2015 in Chile).
In Kolkata, Rhian Brewster struck a sensational hat- trick, his second in as many matches, as England handed pre- tournament favourites Brazil a stunning 3-1 defeat to cruise into their maiden FIFA U-17 World Cup final.
Brewster, who had scored a hat-trick in his side's 4-1 decimation of United States in the quarterfinals on last Saturday, scored in the 10th, 39th and 77th minutes in front of a shell-shocked 63,881 Brazil supporting partisan crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium.
The triple strike took Brewster to seven goals, the highest in the tournament and the Liverpool youth team player has once again shown that he is the best predator on show in the tournament.
Brazil, who were seeking their fourth title, were finally outwitted and outplayed by a more tactical and resilient side as they bowed out of the tournament with heart-break.
In fact, England, who have created history by reaching their maiden semifinals in their fourth appearance, were clearly the better side and they did not allow Brazil to impose on them in the match which was shifted out of Guwahati at the last minute due to poor playing conditions following incessant rain.
Meanwhile in Navi Mumbai, European champions Spain staved off a battling Mali to emerge 3-1 winners in a rip-roaring, action-packed semi-final contest to enter the summit clash.
Spain scored twice in the first half, both the goals coming from their ebullient striker Abel Ruiz, and added one more through a headed goal by Ferran Torres to take a commanding 3-0 lead before Mali found the mark for the first and only time through their own top goal getter Lassana N'Diaye in the 74th minute.
By virtue of this win, Spain has entered the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the fourth time and their first appearance in the title clash 2007.
Mali also had an attempt that appeared like a legitimate goal which was controversially not signalled in by the assistant referee, when they were trailing 0-2 before Spain scored their third goal to virtually shut off the contest although Mali fought hard till the end.
The victory by Spain after staving off a late fight-back by the African age group champions has, thus, piloted them into a summit clash against England.