FIFA U-17 World Cup: England’s Road to the Final

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England came into the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, India as one of the favourites to take it home. Given the way they have been playing for the past two weeks, it must come as a surprise to no one that they are in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup this year. Their brand of incisive football has at times blown apart teams — like Chile in their opening fixture — while on other occasions, they have politely taken rivals to the door and shown them out.

Making it out of the group stage itself was considered to be tricky, given that England were drawn in the proverbial Group of Death against teams of the calibre of North American champions Mexico, runners-up in the uber-competitive South American championships, Chile, and Asian title winners Iraq. But they sidestepped the potential banana-skin that was the group stage with elan, beginning with a 4-0 thumping of Chile in their opener. A brace from Jadon Sancho between goals from Angel Gomes and Callum Hudson-Odoi helped them wrap up the match.

They were given an almighty scare in the next game by Mexico who, after being 3-0 down on 55 minutes, came back into the game with a brace from Diego Lainez. However, England clung to the game by their fingernails to assure themselves a spot into the knockout stages.

Goals from Rhian Brewster(39′), Phil Foden(48′) and a penalty goal from Jadon Sancho (55′) helped England take a 3-0 lead. But a sudden comeback brace from Diego Lainez (65′ and 72′) made the score 3-2. There was no more drama after that, and the match ended 3-2.

They seemed more composed in the next match against Iraq, dispatching the Asian champions 4-0 to make it to the knockout stages with a perfect record. After goals from Angel Gomes (11′) and Emile Smith-Rowe (57′), Daniel Loader (59′ and 71′) scored a brace to make it all same as the Chile game.

In the Round of 16 encounter against Japan, England needed the penalty shootout to rubber stamp their entry into the quarters after being held to a 0-0 draw in regulation time.

 After a 0-0 scoreline at 90 minutes, there was no extra time played (ABBA penalty system) and the match directly went on to the penalties. One miss from Japan and all goals from the English wrapped up the game for England (5-3 in penalties).
While their forwards had a rare off-day against Japan, their quarter-final opponents, USA, bore the full brunt of England’s attacking nous with Liverpool teenager Rhian Brewster particularly clinical in a match-winning performance. Two goals from him (11′ and 14′) in quick succession and one from Morgan Gibbs-White (64′) saw them lead 3-0 before Joshua Sargent (72′) pulled one back for the American Side. But it was Rhian Brewster again who  scored from a penalty on the 90th minute to cancel out Sargent’s goal. The game ended 4-1 in favour of the European side.

Brewster was at it again in the semis, scoring all three of England’s goal against Brazil to take England into their maiden FIFA U-17 World Cup final. A hattrick from Rhian Brewster (10′, 39, and 77′) and a goal from Wesley (21′) for the Brazilians saw the match end 3-1 in favour of the nation from United Kingdom.

Now, the final game awaits ahead of them as they take on mighty Spain. They are only ninety minutes away from wrapping everything up and taking it all back home. It would be a pleasure to watch both the teams in the final game.

Rhian Brester of England tops the goal scorers list with 7 goals. He will be one of the main players to be watched out in the finals.