FIFA U17 WC: Paraguay pips Mali in goal fest

The two teams were tied 2-2 at half time, before Alan Rodriguez converted from the spot in the 55th minute to score the winner.

Paraguay and Mali players in action during the Group B fixture at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Friday.   -  SHASHANK PARADE


Mali threatened to blow away a patient Paraguay with a first-half blitz, before the latter outwitted the champions from Africa by reducing pace and seizing control for a 3-2 win in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Group B tie between two powerful nations at the D Y Patil stadium in Mumbai on Friday. Alan Rodriguez’s sweeping left-footed penalty kick proved decisive, apart from goalkeeper Diego Huesca’s saves.

But five goals offered an insight into the natural talent at the U-17 age group.

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Attacks followed counter-attacks with ferocity, almost like in basketball with fearsome players under the offensive board. Mali’s assault on goal was brutal and direct, almost daring any rival to stand in its path as forwards bore down across the turf. The switch from defence to attack happened swiftly.

Antonio Gaeano offered a glimpse of thriller in store by lashing a left-footer across and high into the roof. Leonardo Sanchez punched in the second goal for Paraguay, leaving Mali defence in tatters. The goal came off a free-kick on the left flank.

The Africans hit back with a vengeance. The players, with the ball, swayed past rivals so smoothly as if the defender did not exist. Salaam Giddou set up Hadji Drame for a deadly finish.

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Lassana Ndiaye’s thundering left footer on the run after a swerve into space shook Paraguay. Djemousaa Traore set up his teammate with a run through the defence. Four first-half goals and the shift of momentum provided the much needed entertainment on the world stage.

Results: Paraguay 3 (Antonio Galeano, Leonardo Sanchez, Alan Rodriguez (pen) bt Mali 2 (Hadji Drame, Lassana Ndiaye).

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