Holders Mexico edged three-time champions Brazil on a marathon session of penalties after the quarter-final from Dubai’s Rashid Stadium ended tangled 1-1 after regular time. The two goals didn’t come until the last ten minutes of this cautious affair that sees the Mexicans through to the semi-finals, where they will meet either Argentina or Côte d’Ivoire.
The fourth meeting between the two nations in the U-17 world finals started slowly and cautiously. The South Americans, who have scored 18 goals in their four games here in UAE, tried and tried in the first half against the defending champions, but they were unable to get control of the contest as Mexico defended manfully.
It wasn’t until the 37th minute that the game – which promised to be a showpiece for two attack-minded sides – saw its first genuine chance on goal. Ivan Ochoa collected the ball inside his own half and ran half the length of the pitch before being denied by the knee of Marcos.
One minute before the whistle went for half-time, Brazil’s Indio tried his luck with a free-kick from way out. He hit it well, but the ball could only crash against the crossbar. Seconds later, Caio had a nice effort from the edge of the box that soared regrettably over the frame of goal.
The game continued in the same fashion at the start of the second half, with neither side able to carve out many scoring chances of note. But in the 80th minute, the Mexicans turned the game on its ear. A free-kick from the right side was flicked on near the penalty spot and Ivan Ochoa was alert on the back post to hit home with his first touch.
The three-time champions were stung into immediate response. Nathan, Brazil’s outstanding playmaker, got on the end of ping-ponging series of deflections in the Mexican penalty area to fire home his own rebound from 12 yards out and level the scores with five minutes to go.
Brazil pressed hard in the dying moments, but the sides couldn’t be separated and the game went to penalty shootout – the first of these finals. Mexico goalkeeper Raul Gudino got his hands to both of Brazil’s first shots, but he failed to keep them out.
All the kicks went in after that until captain Ulises Rivas saw his effort saved by Marcos. Gudino came to Mexico’s rescue, though, by saving from Gabriel to keep El Tri alive. The kick count rose. Brazil’s keeper Marcos scored and Auro injured himself scoring his penalty. Finally the deadlock was broken when Mosquito’s second kick was saved by Gudino and Alejandro Diaz scored to make it 11-10.