Spain too good for Mali as they set-up final meeting with England

27 October, 2017, 01:05 | Author: Nina Hammond
  • Spain celebrating a goal. | EPS

A penalty and a great finish by Abel Ruiz saw Spain getting the edge over a physical Mali side.

The Africans came charging and threatened from some wing plays.

The talking point of the match, however, came with half-an-hour to go as Mali were denied a goal when Oumar Doucoure's shot from long range that hit the bar and came back appeared to have just made it over the line. Spain too have enough motivation: for all the trophies won by the senior team, they are yet to win a U-17 World Cup in eight appearances.

Spain's class proved too much for Mali as an Abel Ruiz brace inspired the U-17 European champion to a comprehensive 3-1 win in the semifinal of the Federation Internationale de Football Association U-17 World cup here on Wednesday.

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Right-winger Ferran Torres, who tormented Iran in the quarterfinals and got his deserved first goal of the World Cup, has been Spain's brightest spark in attack. Mali stuck to its game plan of taking shots from outside the box while Spain was happy to press on the counter.

A total of 162 goals have been scored in this edition of the tournament so far - the third best behind UAE 2013 (172 goals) and Korea Republic 2007 (165). Spain doubled their lead shortly before the break when Ruiz latched on to a defence-splitting pass from Gomez and found the target with a first time attempt.

Mali did pull one back in the 74th minute, with its top-scorer Lassana N'diaye bagging his sixth of the tournament to give the African U-17 champion some hope. Cesar Gelabert was brought down inside the 18-yard-box by Malian defender Abdoulaye Diaby which led to a penalty kick being awarded to Spain.

Spain was happy to soak Mali's pressure and in the 33rd minute nearly doubled its tally on the counter when Ruiz's side-footed finish, capping off a slick move from the left flank, missed the right-hand post by a whisker. Spain were also crowned champions of Europe, winning the UEFA U-17 Euros in order to qualify for the tournament.

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