Spain tough it out to reach final
A Bojan strike four minutes from the end of extra time saw
La Selección complete a tense 2-1 win over Ghana at the
Ulsan Complex Stadium on Wednesday and claim their place in the
final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007.
As expected, the tie proved to be an intense affair, and it was Ghana who revealed their intentions first when Sadick Adams flashed a 40-yard drive just wide. The Africans dominated early proceedings, pumping long balls into the channels for their flying full-backs to chase, with both Adams and Ishamel Yartey then going close.
A full ten minutes had elapsed before Camacho and Fran Merida
began to find their feet on the soggy pitch, and prompted by their
precise passing the Spanish started to work their way into the
game. With Iago on the right, Isma Lopez on the left and Dani
Aquino providing a willing foil, Bojan probed the African defence
with some typically surging runs from deep. Even so, the Iberians
struggled to make any headway against a resolute Ghanaian
The initiative then swung back in the Africans' favour, Adams rounding De Gea and shooting wide of a gaping goal on 34 minutes before the keeper pulled off a superb save from Ransford Osei's bullet header just moments later. Juan Santisteban's side hit back swiftly, carving out a double chance that saw Enoch Adu make two desperate goalline clearances.
Ghana boss Sellas Tetteh upped the ante in the second half, taking off Issac Donkor and bringing on a third striker in Abeiku Quansah. All the same, it was Adams who continued to carry the greatest threat, the Ashanti Gold forward nearly scoring on the turn six minutes in. Increasingly content to hit on the counterattack, Spain then took the lead with a little over 20 minutes left when Aquino converted an Iago cross at the second attempt.
Unnerved, the Black Starlets kept their heads and coolly took their opportunity when it came. That man Adams was their saviour, ghosting in on the right to collect a smart pass from Quansah and unleash a fierce cross-shot past the helpless De Gea. Bar a powerful Adu drive in the closing stages, there were no further scares for either side and it was on to extra time.
The pattern of the game remained unchanged with both sides beginning to tire and becoming increasingly unwilling to gamble. The Spanish were then indebted to the formula that has served them so well in Korea, with the flawless De Gea thwarting Kelvin Bossman and the tireless Bojan sliding home the winner from a sublimely executed set-piece move. Unfortunately for the No9, that was his last contribution to the tournament, a red card in the dying seconds ruling him out of Sunday's Final.
Facing the Europeans in their third ever Final in the tournament will be the winners of tomorrow's second semi-final between Germany and Nigeria. As for the plucky Ghanaians, a third-place play-off with the losers of that game awaits.