FIFA U-17 World Cup: England rally to crush Spain 5-2 for maiden trophy
England thrashed Spain 5-2 to clinch their maiden FIFA U-17 World Cup title in Kolkata on Saturday.Updated: Oct 28, 2017 23:29 IST
England were crowned FIFA U-17 World Cup winners, beating Spain 5-2 after a super night of football that ended a tournament that now has the most goals, overall and in the final, and was the most watched Fifa youth tournament ever. (England vs Spain highlights)
Rhian Brewster’s 44th minute goal gave him the Golden Boot with eight goals. More importantly, it gave England hope and ended the first half with the promise of a contest after Spain had struck twice through Sergio Gomez (10th and 31st).
Inspired by Philip Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who repeatedly left Spain’s left-back Juan Miranda flailing, the Young Lions produced a comeback story that will be narrated by each one of the 66,684 in the stadium years after Fifa revamps its youth competitions structure.
Morgan Gibbs White, who had earlier said this team feels no nerves, made it 2-2 in the 58th minute. For both England goals, it was right-back Steven Sessegnon who provided the assist, making the kind of runs usually associated with a side-back from Brazil.
And then it was Foden --- the most technically equipped player on the pitch who could have scored a hattrick had his first-time volley, off a Hudson-Odoi ball from the left, not been saved by Spain goalie Alvaro Fernandez -- who scored twice, in the 69th and 88th minutes. By then Marc Guehi too had scored from a melee in the 84th minute.
All this looked impossible in the first 31 minutes. In that time, Spain gave a demonstration of football imitating life. Cesar Gelabert played a ball back when everyone at Salt Lake stadium thought he would shoot on goal. Perhaps realising that he was off-balance and that a defender was blocking his route, the Real Madrid player passed the ball back.
It fell in space and Gomez fired a left-footer that even two goalkeepers of Curtis Anderson’s ability wouldn’t have been able to stop. Like in life, sometimes you need to go back to go forward.
And it showed Catalonia may have voted for independence but in Kolkata on Saturday, Madrid and Barcelona got along famously. Gomez wears Barcelona’s claret and the assist came from a Real Madrid player.
This was after a 10th minute strike from Gomez, ghosting in and touching the ball past Anderson after Miranda salvaged Abel Ruiz’s overcooked pass and played it for Gelabert. Even as Joel Latibeaudiere asked whether Gomez was off-side, Spain were celebrating. Both Spain goals were set up by Ruiz.
England then produced the kind of fight back that was once the stuff of Germany in the men’s World Cup finals. Yes, they had started well with Emile Smith Rowe just failing to make contact. Brewster went wide again but then Spain showed they knew what to do with the ball when they had it. It was a point made by their coach Santiago Denia on Friday that while possession may be important, it wasn’t the only thing in the Spanish way of playing.
Hudson-Odoi hitting the upright was to show Spain may have left them gobsmacked with counter-attacking football, but England weren’t going to be trampled over. Brewster’s goal was all they needed to turn things around. Because belief, as they showed in the second half, they had never lost.
First Published: Oct 28, 2017 23:06 IST