England makes feisty comeback to clinch FIFA U-17 World Cup

The Three Lions youngsters handed Spain a humiliating 5-2 defeat in the final at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.

England's Philip Foden (7) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring his second goal of the final in Kolkata on Saturday.   -  K.R. Deepak

Two nations, known historically for their divergent footballing philosophies and their globally popular clubs, presented slightly different versions of a European 4-2-3-1 system, which almost mirrored each other, in the final of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The winning prize – the 495mm, 4.56 kg trophy – finally belonged to England, but the dominant style of play in the competition showed a global appreciation for the artistic ball-playing game, a welcome departure from the long-ball punt of yesteryear.

Match Centre

England, in search of altering its football DNA, came back strongly in the second half to reverse a deficit and exact revenge on its European championship nemesis. Playing their own version of the sleek passing game, the Three Lions youngsters asserted their supremacy, handing Spain, the land from where a lot of the modern football ideas have generated, a humiliating 5-2 defeat.

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Absorbing the early English pressure, the Spaniards showed their mastery of the tiki-taka game to surge ahead in the 10th minute of play. Juan Miranda started a wonderful move down the left flank, playing the ball to Abel Ruiz, who again found Miranda inside the box. The defender kept his nerve to play a measured cross, which was headed down in the melee towards English goalkeeper Curtis Anderson. Serzio Gomez, lurking close, was quick to react and ghost the ball past his rival. The Catalonia-born forward, though, was a touch offside and England rightly felt aggrieved.  

 

In the 31st minute, skipper Ruiz, a La Masia product, showed his class as he weaved his way to pass the ball to Cesar Gelabert, occupying space inside the box. He, too, showed excellent close control and moved the ball to Gomez on the left. The striker’s first-time left footer across the goal went into the top corner, leaving Anderson with no time to react.

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As Spain settled to a slightly easier pace, England looked for avenues to climb its way back into the game.  The team’s perseverance was finally rewarded, with Rhian Brewster reducing the margin with a minute left for the break. The Spanish defence, often its Achilles heel, failed to clear a Steven Sessegnon cross from the left, leaving the unmarked top-scorer of the tournament to do the rest.  

GOLDEN BALL

 

1.    Philip Foden (England)

2.    Sergio Gomez (Spain)

3.    Rhian Brewster (England)

GOLDEN BOOT

 

1.    Rhian Brewster (England) 8 (penalty 1)

2.    Lassana N'Diaye (Mali) 6

3.    Abel Ruiz (Spain) 6 (penalty 2)

GOLDEN GLOVE

 

Gabriel Brazao (Brazil)

FAIR PLAY AWARD

Brazil

 

The Liverpool striker almost equalised with the last play of the half, but Fernandez stretched high to tip away his dipping free-kick.

A patient buildup in the 57th minute led to the English equaliser as Philip Foden showed his class to find a running Sessegnon behind the Spanish defence. His shot across the box was connected home by Morgan Gibbs-White, who was just a yard out with only the goalkeeper to beat.

READ: We, oui! Wenger hails England youth policy after U-17 win

Foden duly got his reward, pushing England ahead in the 69th minute after Callum Hudson-Odoi had done the hard work with a scintillating run down the left. His pass from inside the box was neatly placed by the Manchester City forward.

Spain attacked with gusto and almost found the equaliser, but Sessegnon was there to avert danger, clearing from the line after Victor Chust had headed the ball toward the goal in the 73rd minute. 

 England coach: ‘The 5-2 win tells everything about this team’

England, however, was still not finished and Chelsea’s Marc Guehi put the result beyond doubt with an opportunistic strike in the 84th minute. The defender was the first to react and bundle the ball home after skipper Joel Latibeaudiere soared high to bring down a Hudson-Odoi free-kick. Four minutes later, Foden, easily the best player on the pitch in the second half, added to Spain’s misery as he ran past a tired defence to score from a Hudson-Odoi assist.

The rout was complete and the 66,684-strong crowd had a new hero to cheer as the stadium reverberated with the sounds of  “Fodden, Fodden.”  

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