- Iran reach last eight for the first time
- Spain end French hopes again
- Mali’s Hadji Drame scores 2,000th goal in the tournament’s history
THE DAY REPLAYED – Iran, Spain, England and Mali emerged victorious in the day’s four Round-of-16 ties at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.
The Iranians pounced on two early lapses by the Mexico defence to take an unassailable lead and advance into the last eight for the first time at their fourth attempt. Defeat meant a backward step for the Mexicans, who reached the semi-finals at the last three U-17 world finals.
Spain came from behind to knock out France, not for the first time this year. After thwarting what had been the competition’s most prolific attack, La Rojita are now bidding for a third consecutive semi-final place.
England failed to hit their group-phase heights but did enough from the penalty spot to edge out Japan and equal their best-ever performance at the competition, which came at Korea Republic 2007 and Mexico 2011.
Chile 2015 runners-up Mali had no such problems in seeing off Iraq, with Lassana Ndiaye striking twice to join France’s Amine Gouiri as the tournament’s joint top scorer with five goals.
What we learned
Iranian football on a roll
Three months after becoming the first Asian country to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, Iran achieved another footballing high, with the nation’s U-17s advancing to the last eight of the world finals for the first time ever. On their three previous appearances in the competition, the Iranians fell in the group phase once and the last 16 twice.
Just as they did in the quarter-finals of this year’s UEFA Under-17 Championship, Spain ended France’s hopes. And as on that occasion, the Spanish came from behind, with skipper Abel Ruiz again scoring the winner from the spot.
Anderson strikes twice
Though England keeper Curtis Anderson did not have much to do in normal time against Japan, he proved a safe pair of hands when the game went to a penalty shoot-out. Anderson pulled off what proved to be a decisive save from Hinata Kida before promptly stepping up to convert his side’s fourth spot-kick.
Stat of the day
2,000 – Mali’s Hadji Drame wrote his name into the U-17 World Cup record books by scoring the 2,000th goal in the tournament’s history.
“We’ve lost to Spain again. We could have gone through, but we knew we didn’t have much margin for error. They’ve got good players all over the pitch and we don’t have the experience they do, which showed at the end of each half. They know how to handle those phases of the game; we don’t.” France coach Lionel Rouxel