A goalkeeping howler and Yuri Alberto’s late strike was sufficient for Brazil to beat Mali 2-0 and finish third in the Fifa under-17 World Cup in Kolkata on Saturday, reported PTI.

Mali goalkeeper Youssouf Koita gifted Alan a goal in the 55th minute against the run of play and then second-half substitute Alberto scored in the 88th minute as Brazil hit their more adventurous opponents on the counter in a dull encounter.

The 56,432 Kolkata fans turned up at the Salt Lake Stadium to make the Fifa U-17 World Cup the most attended tournament in its history but the team, who was defeated by England in the semi-finals, failed to live up to their billing.

In the whole match, Brazil had just three shots on target while Mali, who showed more attacking intent, had 10 shots. The scoreline did not show tell the entire story but Mali were also to blame as their strikers lacked the finishing touch. However, Brazil goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao made some fine saves to keep them off the score sheet as well.

Nonetheless, the three-time champions Brazil ended the tournament in third position. This was the second time they finished third since the inaugural edition in China in 1985. Mali, meanwhile, went outside a podium finish after ending runners-up in the last edition in Chile.

Mali made two changes with captain Mohamed Camara coming in for Cheick Oumar Doucoure and Mamadi Fofana replacing Abdoulaye Diaby as central defender in the starting XI. Brazil did not change their line-up that started in the semi-final.

The first half was a battle of the midfield between both sides. Brazil had more possession but Mali attacked more with the action mostly in the Brazilian half. Mali played with a defensive high line while Brazil played deeper and looked to hit on the break.

Picture credit: @FIFAcom
Picture credit: @FIFAcom

Brazao the saviour

In the 16th minute, Brazil left back Weverson had a left-footed shot after a fine work by Lincoln, but missed the target. Mali skipper Camara had a shot in the 26th minute and Brazil goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao had to dive to his left to save it. In the 40th minute, Victor Bobsin’s defensive mistake led to Salam Jiddou taking a fierce shot from inside the box, but Brazao reacted in the nick of time to tip it over. The pattern of the match did not change much in the second half with Mali looking the side likely to score.

But out of the blue, Mali goalkeeper Youssouf Koita gifted Brazil a goal in the 55th minute. Alan snatched the ball from a defender and his poking shot was weak and harmless, but Koita let it slipped towards his left and into the net.

There was no other way for Mali to press for the equaliser as they put more men upfront. But Brazil exploited the gaps at the back and Alberto fired in a low shot past the goalkeeper with just two minute left in the match.

‘Worst game of the World Cup’

“We had our worst game of the World Cup, the worst match in two and half years of preparation. But we were lucky it went our way,” said Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu after the match. “We tried to show you Brazilian football but today we could not. In all the competitions, we have showed what Brazilian football is all about,” he added.

Amadeu said it was very tough to motivate his players as they were very heartbroken after losing the semi-final to England. “We know we could have done much better today. When you lose a semi-final you want to live. We always want to win when we cannot win anymore we want to live. This is why it’s so difficult to motivate this players. We had to work hard to keep them motivated in the game. We would like to have a great game. We could not but that’s what we were trying,” said Amadeu.