THE DAY REPLAYED – Holders Nigeria dented Brazil’s profligacy and strolled into the last-four with a 3-0 victory, while Mali maintained their impressive defensive record to progress to their first FIFA U-17 World Cup semi-final courtesy of a tightly-contested 1-0 win over Croatia.
Three goals in five first-half minutes undid a positive start for Brazil, sending a stunned A Seleção home. Victor Osimhen, with his eighth goal in five games, Kingsley Michael and Udochukwu Anumudu hit the quickfire treble for the African side, with the rest of the game a mere procession for the four-time champions as they secured their passage to the final four.
Mali’s miserly defence continued in their 1-0 victory over Croatia, with Les Aigles stretching their impressive run without conceding to almost five hours. Sekou Koita’s first-half effort was enough to see off the Europeans, despite a booking for captain Abdoul Dante meaning their leader and defensive organiser will miss the historic semi-final.
- Brazil 0 – 3 Nigeria
- Croatia 0 – 1 Mali
Goal of the dayCroatia 0-1 Mali, Sekou Koïta (20)Koita’s effort was outstanding as much for the clinical nature of the 15-year-old’s finish as for the technique of Sidiki Maiga’s assist. A long crossfield ball from the Malian right found Maiga close to the Croatian touchline. His perfectly-weighted first time touch back was met by the onrushing Koita, who finished with a powerful drive across Adrian Semper into the bottom corner.
Memorable momentsDéjà vu for No3After Nigeria’s swift treble of goals, the TV camera panned to a clearly emotional Ronaldo in the stands. The captain was booked in his side’s Round of 16 clash against New Zealand, meaning he missed the crucial knockout game against the African heavyweights. The moment had a strange sense of familiarity, with Thiago Silva, Brazil’s captain and No3, also pictured in the stands at the Estadio Mineirao during the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, as the suspended skipper missed his side’s demolition by Germany.
Evander’s knowing smileBy the end of their last eight clash against the holders, Brazil had tried pretty much everything to break down the Nigerian defence, with 21 shots on goal – a total only surpassed in their dominant attacking performance against New Zealand. Evander summed it up for Carlos Amadeu’s men with his rueful grin after Akpan Udoh clawed out his superb late free-kick with an inspired save. Try as they might, it was not Brazil’s day.
Custodians exchange pleasantriesThe two goalkeepers shared a moment of Fair Play ahead of the Croatia-Mali showdown, with Semper and Samuel Diarra exchanging smiles, handshakes and a brief word. Semper was most likely looking for Diarra’s secret formula to success, with the Malian stopper’s clean sheet against the European side meaning he has not conceded for 290 consecutive minutes in Chile.
8 semi-finals for holders Nigeria, a new standalone U-17 World Cup record. They have now reached the most outright, after surpassing Brazil by beating them in the Chile 2015 quarter-final.
FIFA.com via [CAF]
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