Brazil again on penalties
On a day when football in New Zealand set a record for crowd attendance, Brazil just edged Australia 8-7 in a penalty shoot-out to retain the FIFA Under-17 World Championship crown in New Zealand at the North Harbour Stadium.
A crowd of 22,859 paying spectators crammed the Stadium despite a steady drizzle to watch Brazil and the Australians who had defied the odds to reach the final of the tournament battle it out. In the end, it took a penalty shoot-out to decide the outcome after both sides failed to make any headway at full-time and then extra-time.
Kudos to the Australians. They took the fight to the Brazilians, refusing to be cowed by the reputation of their challengers as others might have. They fought hard for every ball and deployed some tight marking to keep the Brazlian attack at bay and the robust Aussies who had made the first ever final of a FIFA tournament, came close to taking the shine of Brazil with a couple of excellent goal scoring chances. The Aussie defence paid particular attention to Brazil's goal poacher Leonardo who was effectively ,marked out of the game.
With both teams quite even in all aspects of the game, especially in defence and midfield play, the match did suffer from a lack of creativity as caution was sometimes the order of the day. Still, the fans who came had their share of thrill from this final as dashes of brilliance came to the fore.
There were times when the Brazilians seemed quite desperate to make headway in the game. In the process the Brazilians team picked up four cautions against the two for Australia.
Credit must go to some good goalkeeping at both ends. Both Kedwell Vanstrattan and Rubinho made some incredibly good saves in both halves and contributed much to the confidence of the team and the frustration of the strike force from either side.
Brazil's Leo who had a good game was judged the JVC Player of the Match both this was the only real achievement the Brazilians could show for 120-minutes of play against opponents who had came within a whisker of dashing their hopes of a repeat victory in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship.
In the third-fourth placing match played at the same venue, Ghana thumped two goals past the United States, to secure victory Ghana had a better share of the attack and the Americans failed to display the same brand of enthusiasm shown in earlier matches.
As has been the case often, the Americans conceded a goal in the 35th minute and failed to get back into the fight to go down 0-2 eventually.