That's it then. The La Roja are through to the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a comprehensive win over Mali, who failed to make the most of their chances in both the halves. Spain dominated the first half with a total of four shots on target to Mali's single shot and were in control of their play in the next 45 minutes. Mali's direct approach didn't help them run past Juan Miranda and Hugo Guillamon.
So, there we are. It is going to be England vs Spain in the final on 28 October. The rematch of the European U-17 Championships. It is safe to call both Spain and England, the best U-17 sides in the world right now.
Fulltime! Mali 1-3 Spain.
The referee blows the whistle for fulltime as Spain beat Mali to reach the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup! A brace from captain Abel Ruiz put Spain ahead at halftime while Ferran Torres tripled their lead midway through the second half. Mali, however, were robbed off a goal as the absence of goal-line technology meant that Cheick Oumar Doucure's shot which bounced out of goal was not awarded. Mali finally got the goal they deserved as Lassana N'Diaye found the back of the net. Mali probed the Spanish defence to take the match to penalties, but in vain.
Spain will now face England on Saturday in the final. The two sides had also met in the final of the U-17 European Championships where Spain emerged triumphant in penalty shootouts.
90+2` Mali 1-3 Spain
Hadji Drame with all the time in the world to blast it at goal but he scuffs his shot and the ball tamely rolls behind for a goal-kick.
90` Mali 1-3 Spain
Five minutes added on by the referee as Spain make their final change. Mohamed Moukhliss goes off and he's replaced by Diego Pampin.
The West African side have pulled one back. They say you are most likely to concede just after you have scored. That's what happened with Spain here, they switched off at the back after scoring their third. Mali should make most of their chances now or they should just forget about a spot in the final.
82` Mali 1-3 Spain
N'Daiye with a chance to make it 2-3 to Mali as Mamadou's deflected cross falls to him. He tries to toe-poke it but his shot has no power and Fernandez gratefully grabs the ball. Mali aren't going down without a fight.
79` Mali 1-3 Spain
That's the end of Ferran Torres' shift tonight as he is replaced by Victor Perea.
74` GOAL! Lassana N'Diaye scores! Mali 1-3 Spain
Lassana N'Diaye pulls one back for Mali as the African side look to do the impossible. Remember that Mali had a goal disallowed and one wonders what the situation would have been had that one would have been given.
71` GOAL! Ferran Torres scores! Mali 0-3 Spain
Victory in sight for Spain as Ferran Torres triples their lead. Sergio Gomez whips in a cross from the left and Torres heads in from an unmarked position.
67` Mali 0-2 Spain
Both teams make their first change of the match as Cesar Gelabert comes off for Carlos Beitia while Mali's Mamadou Traore replaces Djemoussa Traore.
61` Goal disallowed! Mali 0-2 Spain
Mali are really really unlucky there. Doucure with a thunderbolt of a strike which hits the underside of the bar and bounces inside the goal, a la Frank Lampard vs Germany. With no goal-line technology to assist the referee, Mali are robbed of a well-deserved goal. The Mali coaching staff are furious and the referee has to go over to the Mali bench to talk to them. The crowd have thrown their weight behind the African side as chants of "Mali! Mali!" can be heard going around the stadium.
Mali coach Jonas Komla is furious on the touchline as his players give away yet another ball in their own half. Captain Salam Jiddou has been cleaning up the mess in the middle of the park. On the other hand, Spain haven't been troubled at the back.
57` Mali 0-2 Spain
Ferran Torres gets on the end of Sergio Gomez's cross but the winger's first time shot curls just wide off the far post.
53` Mali 0-2 Spain
A goalmouth scramble in front of the Mali goal as Spain try to get their third goal. Miranda's cross from the left is met by Torres on the other end. His shot is blocked by Koita but he manages to poke the rebound into the path of Gelabert. Gelabert pulls the trigger but the ball is cleared from under his feet by a Mali defender.
47` Mali 0-2 Spain
Ruiz gets an opportunity to get his hattrick as he gets on the end of a long ball. He tries to toe-poke it past Koita but the Mali keeper is quick to come out of the six-yard box and save.
46` Mali 0-2 Spain
We're off in the second half as Mali look to launch a comeback and they are on the attack straightaway. Drame tries his luck from distance but his shot is more of a cross which Djemoussa just misses getting a touch on.
Watch our correspondents Shivam Damohe and Amit Kamath preview the action from the first half from the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
Halftime. Mali 0-2 Spain
Spain are 45 minutes away from booking their place in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Cesar Gelabert and Abel Ruiz have troubled the Mali defence. Gelabert won the penalty from which Ruiz scored to give Spain the lead. 2 minutes from halftime, Gelabert's through ball helped Ruiz doubles Spain's lead. As it stands, Spain will meet England in a replay of the 2017 U-17 European Championships which they ended up winning in penalties.
Abel Ruiz should've put that in the back of the net. The Mali defence fails to track the Spanish skipper's run and he attempts an outrageous backheel shot from Ferran Torres' cross. Ruiz's flick bounces off Koita's knee and Mali survive.
28` Mali 0-1 Spain
The referee calls for the cooling break. It has been all Spain till now as the European champions are content with absorbing pressure and hitting Mali on the counter.
18` GOAL! Abel Ruiz scores! Mali 0-1 Spain
Cesar Gelabert is through on goal after good work from Ferran Torres. However, Gelabert is fouled by Diaby and the Japanese referee points straight to the spot. Abel Ruiz steps up and hits it straight down the goal as Koita dives to his left. Brilliant start by Spain.
8` Mali 0-0 Spain
Mali unlucky not to be in the lead. N'Diaye gets on the end of a through ball and keeper Fernandez rushes out to block his attempt. N'Diaye gets his shot away but he is unlucky as the ball hits the side netting.
5` Mali 0-0 Spain
Penalty appeal from Spain as Cesar Gelabert goes down. Replays suggest that Abdoulaye Diaby might have stuck a leg out and impeded the Spaniard. Good start for Spain nonetheless.
1` Mali 0-0 Spain
What a save from Koita! Abel Ruiz puts in a cross and the header from a Mali defender falls to Sergio Gomez. The Barcelona youth player hits it on the volley from point-blank range but Koita is quick to get down and turn it over the bar.
Spain might have an extra edge going into the clash at the Dr DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, but Mali's direct football can shake up the technically sound Spanish midfield
Mali vs Spain
Only a single change for Mali as Cheick Oumar Doucoure comes in place of Mali's suspended skipper Mohamed Camara. Spain field the same team that beat Iran in the quarter-final but they will be without Jose Lara as the Spaniard picked up his second yellow in the last match after coming on as a substitute.
Spain: Alvaro Fernandez (GK), Mateu Jaume, Juan Miranda, Hugo Guillamon, Victor Chust, Antonio Blanco, Ferran Torres, Mohamed Moukhliss, Abel Ruiz (C), Sergio Gomez, Cesar Gelabert
Hello and welcome to Firstpost's live coverage of the FIFA U-17 World Cup semi-final between Mali and Spain.
Preview: Football fans will witness an exciting clash of two attack oriented teams when Spain and Mali clash in the semi-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Wednesday.
Spain unleashed the full force of their 'tiki-taka' brand of football against Iran in the quarter-finals, running away with a 3-1 win.
The European U-17 champions have several impressive players who have the potential to become stars of the future.
Ferran Torres has been impressive down the right wing, outfoxing rival defenders repeatedly with his intelligent runs and accurate balls into the box.
Centre-forward Abel Ruiz has displayed good finishing skills, scoring four times in five matches.
Both Torres and Ruiz were in excellent form in the quarter-finals and their combination created all sorts of problems for the Iran defenders.
Much like their senior team, the Spanish youngsters have an exciting possession-based game. They had started their campaign with a narrow loss to Brazil in Group D, but have steadily improved since then.
They were impressive in the second round, where they beat France playing attractive football.
Mali, however, will not be easy opponents. Mali have won the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations twice in a row — the first team to do so in the history of the tournament.
The Spain defence will have to be alert against Mali as the Africans have more than enough pace and power to catch them off-guard on the counter.
Mali like to play a fast-paced attacking game and have been prolific in this tournament, scoring 15 goals in five matches, conceding six times.
Their promising striker Mali Lassana N'Diaye is the third highest scorer, finding the net five times in five matches. His fellow forward Djemoussa Traore is also in good form with three goals to his name.
Mali also have the ability to score from outside the rival penalty box and the Spain defenders as well as their goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez will have to be on their toes.
With inputs from IANS
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