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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Brazil score ugly 2-0 win over Mali in third-place playoff

Alan and Yuri Alberto scored one goal each as Brazil defeated Mali to finish third at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 28, 2017 20:01 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,Brazil vs Mali,Alan
Brazil's Yuri Alberto, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the FIFA U-17 World Cup match against Mali.(AP)

Brazil finished third, their best ever show in the under-17 World Cup since 2005, but it needed a goalkeeping clanger from Mali’s Yousouf Koita to set them going with Alan’s 55th minute goal. Yuri Alberto then drove home Paulinho’s assist to seal the 2-0 win in the 88th minute and pose like ‘Christ the Redeemer’. (HIGHLIGHTS)

Even Alan wouldn’t have thought that his hopeful shot would dribble through Koita’s hands and past him into goal in the way England’s Robert Green had gifted USA’s Clint Dempsey in the 2010 men’s World Cup. Brazilians consoled Koita, who, at 23, had the maximum saves going into this game. Gabriel Brazao had the busier evening but Mali it was who finished fourth.

This despite either the heart or the legs looking like it had gone missing from Brazil. Their deliveries in the front third continued to be a problem in accuracy and as that continued, errors started creeping in at the back. Victor Bobsin, who sits in front of the back four and is an important player in their link-up play, too lost concentration five minutes from half-time.

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It led to Lassana N’Diaye finding Sala Jiddou, Mali’s midfield heart and an appropriate owner of the No. 10 shirt, whose blast needed the best from Brazao to ensure that Brazil weren’t trailing in every game they have played in Kolkata in this under-17 World Cup.

Brazil’s lack of urgency seemed at odds at how they began. For the third straight game here, the canary yellow looked keener of the teams for an early goal. After an early ball went across their goalmouth, Lincoln didn’t release the ball in time and wasted a build-up that seemed rich with possibilities. Then, he found Brenner with a ball lobbed into space but the midfielder’s first touch let him down.

Bobsin then found Paulinho and it was the boy who seemed to be at the heart of every Brazil initiative early on, playing in a wide area in the front third, who showed poor control. In between, defensive midfielder Mamadou Samake tracked back to tackle Lincoln with space in front.

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Mali found their feet as Brazil’s hunger for a goal seemed satiated by the string of half-efforts. They kept their shape defensively as Brazil tried to draw them out leading to passages of play where little happened. A move involving Ibrahim Kane, Jiddou and N’Diaye had Jiddou shooting out and then Hadji Drame’s delivery was too fast for N’Diaye.

Mali forced 14 corner-kicks, seven in each half but like their shooting, their execution of set-pieces needed more accuracy. When they did get it right, like Boubacar Hiadara’s early free-kick or an 66th minute effort from outside the penalty-area, Brazao stood firm.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 19:58 IST