ANGEL GONZALEZ / AIPS* in DUBAI: Champions Mexico maintained their incredible comeback at the World Under-17s to defeat Brazil 11-10 in a dramatic, tight-nerved penalty shootout after their quarter-final ended all-square at 1-1.
Mexico had crashed 6-1 in their opening group game against Nigeria in the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 but had somehow pulled morale and discipline back together and play Uruguay or Nigeria in the semi-finals.
The hero of the shootout was goalkeeper Raul Gudino. He kept Mexico in the contest by stopping the last kick of the first series from Gabriel then saved again at 10-10 from Brazilian star Mosquito. Alejandro Diaz converted his second kick of the shootout to kill off the favourites.
Brazil had found themselves facing a physical test from the opening minutes and they struggled to create any danger in and around the Mexican penalty area.
Caio caused the most headaches to the Mexican defence but Alejandro Diaz, for the champions, had no support up in attack at the other end.
The first Mexican threat to Marcos in the Brazilian goal came when Ivan Ochoa went through one on one only to see his shot blocked by the keeper’s legs. The first half ended with Caio’s shot from outside the penalty area flying just too high of the Mexican goal.
Midfield anchor Danilo went close for Brazil on the hour after a corner but his header flew inches wide.
Mexico’s strikers were anonymous for the first 20 minutes of the second half yet they went ahead when Ivan Ochoa turned the hall in from close range after Diaz touched on a right-wing free kick from captain Ulises Rivas.
Youth tournament regulations ruled that Norwegian referee referee Svein Oddvar Moen should order an immediate penalty shootout without extra time,
El Tri were losing – after a miss by Ulises Rivas – when it came to the last of the five pairs of initial penalties but keeper Gudino saved from Gabriel to send the duel to sudden death. Both goalkeepers converted their own penalties as the first round of all the players on the pitch at the end of the match ended 10-10.
Gudino then leaped to his left to save from Mosquito and Diaz duly stepped up to make mariachi, not samba, the winning rhythm.
Brazil first: Mosquito 1-0, Diaz 1-1; Nathan 2-1, Ochoa 2-2; Lucas 3-2, Rivas 3-2 (saved); Danilo 4-2, Aguirre 4-3; Gabriel 4-3 (saved), Wbias 4-4. Sudden death: Leo Pereira 5-4, Granados 5-5; Thiago Maia 6-5, Tovar 6-6; Joanderson 7-6, Robles 7-7; Eduardo 8-7, Govea 8-8; Teran 9-8; Auro 10-9, Gudino 10-10. Second round: Mosquito saved 10-10, Diaz 10-11.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #