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FIFA Media, Varun Kumar Mukhia

5-star England come from behind to hammer Spain and lift maiden FIFA U-17 World Cup crown

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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The English exacted revenge for their defeat in the summer's European U-17 Championship final to the same opponents in an exciting swansong to India's first major FIFA event.

England produced an incredible come back to thrash Spain 5-2 in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday. A second half-storm from the Three Lions proved what an incredible side they have been throughout the tournament, completing the revenge of the U-17 European Championship final loss earlier this year and asserting themselves as the best U-17 team in the world.

The jam-packed Salt Lake Stadium lit up to greet these two European heavyweights into battle. Both sides went with unchanged lineups, as both managers did not want to take a risk after their dominating victories in the semi-final. The Three Lions got to a dream start in the 1st minute itself when Morgan Gibbs-White powered through Spain’s midfield, playing a terrific one-two with Rhian Brewster before unleashing a shot which was amazingly saved by the diving Alvaro Fernandez.

Spain got back some possession after a dreadful start and stunned England in the 10th minute when a great pass from captain Abel Ruiz found Juan Miranda in the box. The left-back crossed the ball into the box. Jonaathan Panzo attempted an acrobatoc headed clearence which deflected off Cesar Gelabert and into the path of Sergio Gomez who powered the ball past the helpless Curtis Anderson to give La Roja the lead.  England were trying to threaten for an equalizer but were almost caught out in the 20th minute when the Three Lions had too many men forward for a free-kick and Mohamed Moukhliss pounced on a mistake and raced through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, but failed to get a shot in owing to a heavy last touch which allowed Anderson to race out and gather.

England had no answers to the Spanish attacks and in the 30th minute Fernan Torres delivered a dangerous ball from the right to Gelabert, who picked out an unmarked Gomez on the left side of the penalty area enabling the winger to hit a devastating shot that blasted into the net and doubled the lead for La Roja. England got their first real opportunity in the 39th minute when Brewster’s vicious shot hit Miranda straight in the face and the ball fell to Callum Hudson-Odoi, who put in a great cross tfor the open Phil Foden but the Manhester City youngster’s header went wide of the mark.

Hudson-Odoi was starting to grow into the game and four minutes later beat his man down the left channel, cut in and unleashed a stunning shot which hit the post and went out, much to the winger’s dismay. England finally found their rhythm in the 44th minute when Steven Sessegnon put in an inch-perfect cross for Brewster to powerfully head it in and get one back for the Three Lions. They got a great opportunity to put things level in added time when they received a free-kick just outside the box, but Brewster’s looping shot was palmed away by Alvaro Fernandez.


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Spain decided to sit back early in the second half as England tried to break through their defense and almost did such in the 49th minute when a cross was played to Gibbs-White, who received it well on his left-foot but his shot went way into the stands. But the Three Lions soon became the destructive element they had the reputation of in this tournament, with Steven Sessegnon playing creator again in the 57th minute and played in a beautiful pass to the unmarked Morgan Gibbs-White, who made it 2-2!

 

Spain were struggling to cope up with the pressure of the Three Lions, who were moving through the wings in excellent fashion as Hudson-Odoi showed a great burst of pace in the 69th minute to beat his man and delivered a brilliant curved pass to the far right of the penalty box, where Phil Foden came darting in to put the ball in the back of the net and complete the miraculous comeback for his team. La Roja were stunned by that and charged for an answer and five minutes later received a corner.The set-piece went over Curtis Anderson and fell to Abel Ruiz, who dinked the ball to the middle for a Spanish defender to hit a powerful header which was saved off the line by Sessegnon.

 

Watch Highlights of the FIFA U-17 World Cup FINAL: England 5-2 Spain

Spanish right-back Mateu Jaume was having a torrid second half thanks to Hudson-Odoi, but he showed his own attacking prowess in the 79th minute when he sped his way into the England penalty area, but his shot went wide off the goal. Captain Abel Ruiz also looked for a moment of inspiration a minute later when he went past the English defense, but his shot was also poorly over the bar. But England sealed the game in the 85th minute when a dangerous free-kick from Hudson-Odoi found Joel Latibeaudiere who headed the ball into the middle and found Marc Guehi whose first attempt was saved but he made sure to score in his second one to score the winning goal for the Three Lions.

La Roja brought in forward Nacho Diaz to go all out attack, but England showed their ruthlessness in the 88th minute when Hudson-Odoi again played a brilliant ball to Phil Foden, who showed immense will to get to the ball and hit a vicious shot from his right-foot which beat Alvaro Fernandez and enabled the Man City midfielder to complete his brace and England’s 5th.

Things got a little ugly in added as Phil Foden and Abel Ruiz had a heated exchanged, but things were cooled down by the referee and team-mates. Spain looked completely shell-shocked after the English storm in the second half as England secured their first ever U-17 World Cup win and their second major FIFA tournament victory in what has been an incredible 2017 for their national youth teams.

Published: Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:28 PM IST

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