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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Brazil Edge Past Mali to Finish Third

Brazil celebrate after scoring a goal. (Twitter/FIFA)

Brazil celebrate after scoring a goal. (Twitter/FIFA)

Alan produced the first moment of excitement, before substitute Yuri Alberto added another goal, to help Brazil register their a win, and finish third in the competition

Kolkata: Many a international football match around the world are decided in a moment of brilliance, or an error at this level. At the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, an example of the latter allowed Alan to produce the first moment of excitement, before substitute Yuri Alberto added one more to help Brazil register their best finish at the competition since 2005 as they beat a lacklustre Mali 2-0.

African Champions Mali and Brazil both came into the match with disappointing semi-final losses, while the fans arrived hoping for one last dance with the Samba boys. Unwilling to commit to attack, both Brazil and Mali were holding back and lacked bite in their moves.

The African champions had the better of Brazil, in the early exchanges. Mali had a couple of chances initially, but the target men had left their shooting boots at home. At the other end, Lincoln tried to take the acrobatic route but it was hardly a bother for Mali.

The first real opening on either side came at around the 20th minute, when Mali’s Boubacar Haidara’s free-kick from distance almost found a way to the back of the net as the goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao fumbled, giving his defenders a momentary scare.

The African champions seemed to have got their passing game before their opponents, and were not shying away from taking a shot. Mali captain Mohammed Camara, along with Lassana N’Diaye and Salam Jiddou were the only ones to trouble the Brazilian goalkeeper Brazao, while Brazil were waiting for an audience before making their presence felt at the party.

Ten minutes into the second half – a rare mistake from the generally tight Mali defence saw Alan find the back of the net, after ‘keeper Youssouf Koita’s school boy error. That stung the African champions into life, as they attacked the Brazilian defence in waves, but the Vitao-led defensive unit did not concede an inch. Mali threw the kitchen sink at the South Americans in their hunt for an equaliser, but Brazao held tight.

With just a few minutes left in the game, Brazil took advantage of yet another lapse in concentration in the Mali defence, as Brenner laid it on a silver platter for substitute Yuri Alberto who did not need a second invitation to slot it home.

Mali’s shoulders dropped, and even though they are well known to turn things around late in games, Brazil held on to take third place at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup – their best performance since 2005, when they finished runners-up.
first published:October 28, 2017, 19:26 IST