Defending FIFA U-17 World Cup champions Mexico booked their place in the final of the current edition by cruising past nine-man Argentina 3-0 in Abu Dhabi. El Tri’s passage into the final was sealed early on thanks to a brace from Ivan Ochoa in the opening quarter of the game. Just as Argentina looked like they might get something out of the game, it was put beyond all doubt, thanks to a Marco Granados goal in the 86th minute. Victory in the semifinal means that Mexico will now face either Sweden or Nigeria in the Final.
All of this, hardly looked possible after they were hammered 6-1 in their opening game of the tournament by Nigeria, a side who they are likely to face in the final. Having started poorly, they were on song in the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium and dominated the game from start to finish, with their dominance reflected in the possession stats, which shows them having 63% possession when the final whistle blew.
At the outset, it looked like the game was going to be an open one, as Argentina started brightly. In just the third minute, the Argentines were on the front foot, when they were awarded a penalty after Sebastian Driussi was fouled inside the area by defender Solomon Wbias. The stage was set for a fantastic opening for the Argentines who were appearing in their first semifinal in the U17 World cup since 2003. But, all of their hopes were short lived, as Mexican keeper Raul Gudino once again proved his penchant for saving spot-kicks by saving Driussi’s well taken spot-kick. The Mexican shot-stopper had already saved in the quarter-final shootout win over Brazil and set the tone for what was to come next.
After being let off the hook, El Tri were in no mood to give away a golden opportunity to win their third U-17 crown. And just two minutes after the penalty, Wbias atoned for his earlier mistake by flicking on a corner, which was promptly put away at the back post by Ivan Ochoa, for his third goal of the tournament. After the opening goal, the game was wide open as Argentina went in search of the equalizer whilst Mexico were waiting for them, to hit them on the break.
Although Argentina, looked like they might just nick it, Mexico looked increasingly threatening on set pieces. And that was precisely how El Tri got their second goal, as a free kick from a seemingly inconspicuous area, was put in the back of the net, by who else, but Ochoa who grabbed a brace. From then on in, things only went from bad to worse for Argentina, as Joaquin Ibanez was sent off just after the half-hour mark for a two-studded tackle on Omar Govea.
And whilst Argentina enjoyed slightly more possession in the second half, Mexico were more than content to just sit back and pick them off at the opportune moment and that is precisely what they did, when substitute Marco Granados hammered home the third goal, after the Argentine defense was carved open by a simple through-ball from the edge of the penalty area.
And right on the stroke of full time, things got even worse for Argentina, as they were reduced to nine men after goalkeeper Augusto Batalla was sent off for a professional foul. But by that time, things were well and truly gone and Mexico will hoping to keep their miraculous turn around going, by lifting the cup for the second successive time, which would make them the second team after Brazil to achieve that feat.Published 05 Nov 2013, 21:12 IST