Abel Ruiz’s Brace Helped Spain To Qualify For The Under 17 World Cup Final

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Spain registered a 3-1 win over Mali in the second semi-final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday.

A first-half brace from Abel Ruiz and a third goal by Ferran Torres in the second-half sealed Spain’s progression into the final. N’Diaye’s goal in the 74th minute was nothing more than a consolation for the losing side,

African giants Mali lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation as they locked horns with European champions Spain, who opted for a 4-2-3-1 shape.

Les Aiglonnets’ skipper Mohammed Camara was suspended following two consecutive yellow cards and was therefore replaced by Chieck Omar Doucoure in midfield. As for La Rojita, gaffer Santiago Denia named an unchanged XI for the fifth consecutive game as Abel Ruiz continued to lead the line.

The first quarter of the intriguing tie saw both continental champions test the respective defensive forces as Sergio Gomez and Lassana N’Diaye came close to slotting in the opening goal for their sides.

However, it was in the 19th minute that the first blood was drawn as Spanish skipper Abel Ruiz scored his fifth goal of the tournament from the penalty spot. Cesar Gelabert was brought down inside the 18-yard-box by Malian defender Abdoulaye Diaby which led to a penalty kick being awarded to Spain. Abel Ruiz made no mistake in clinching the opener as he hit the middle of the net, leaving goalkeeper Youssouf Koita helpless.

The FC Barcelona starlet doubled the lead in the 43rd minute which saw Cesar Gelabert provide a pivotal ball to Ruiz who released a grounded shot from outside the box. This was the end of proceedings in the first half as the boys in red walked off at the half-time whistle on a comfortable two-goal cushion.

Around the one-hour mark, Chieck Oumar Doucoure’s shot from 30 yards out hit the crossbar and bounced out after crossing the goal-line. The controversial attempt was overlooked by the match official as Mali’s staff from the sidelines burst in fury.

Mali’s misery was further stretched as the African champions conceded the third goal in the 71st minute. A cross by Sergio Gomez from the left flank saw Ferran Torres get to the end of it as the Valencia player headed the ball into the net.

Just three minutes post, the Malians bounced back as their leading goal-scorer Lassana N’Diaye released a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the goal. However, the goal came too late as Spain had already murdered Mali’s hopes of progression with their three strikes.

The full-time result saw Spain march into the final of the tournament where they will face their fellow Europeans England in what would be a recap of the 2017 U-17 European Championship finale.

On the other hand, losers Mali will compete against Brazil in the third-place play-off at Kolkata on 28th October. The third-place decider will be held at 17:00 IST whereas the final will kick off at 20:00 IST at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.