THE DAY REPLAYED – Though pushed all the way by a valiant French side, the host nation continued their march here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 when sealing their second semi-final appearance in the history of the competition with a 2-1 success. Just as Japan had done against Brazil on Sunday, England came within a goal of pulling back a three-goal deficit against age-old rivals Germany. However, Steffen Freund’s charges, the tournament’s 18-goal top scorers, held firm to see out a 3-2 win.
El Tri, who were cheered on by a rapturous crowd in Pachuca including the country’s First Lady Margarita Zavala and her son, will now meet the Germans in the last four.
Goal of the day
Samed Yesil 53’, Germany-England
Though it was Yesil who put the ball away for his second goal of the game and fifth of the competition, it was the skill and dynamism of Mitchell Weiser - who also provided the assist for Yesil’s first - that was key to this killer blow. Having burst into the area from the right, the No2 drew the last defender before improvising a pass with the inside of his right heel across the six-yard box to give Yesil a simple tap-in.
One eye on the present, one on the future
When interviewed prior to the tournament by FIFA.com, a host of the national-team coaches here at Mexico 2011 spoke about the delicate balance between playing results-football and developing players for the future. And knockout ties such as today’s classic clash between Germany and England are a perfect case in point, with the two European rivals giving everything in a vibrant encounter, after which a clutch of players from both sides collapsed to the turf in celebration, exhaustion and in England’s case, disappointment. The closing minutes of the meeting underlined how little can be taken for granted at FIFA tournaments, with the English players producing a stirring fightback from 3-0 to 3-2 which earned them an ovation from the fans in Morelia.
Trailing by two goals against Germany, England were desperately trying to claw their way back into the game. Lurking dangerously in the penalty area, English defender and captain Nathaniel Chalobah seemed certain to reduce the deficit on 54 minutes after connecting with a thumping bicycle kick, only for German keeper Odisseas Vlachodimos to pull off a stunning reflex save and protect his side’s advantage. In the tie between Mexico and France, home custodian Richard Sanchez also needed to be at his best to deny Soualiho Meite on 78 minutes, flinging himself full stretch to get a hand to the ball and prevent it from entering the top-left corner.
France bounce right back
After scoring twice from corners against Panama in their previous game in Pachuca, Mexico’s first against France came from open play on 14 minutes, after defender Kurt Zouma’s slip in the box gifted Carlos Fierro the space to set up team-mate Kevin Escamilla. Yet within three minutes French right-back Jordan Ikoko had dragged his side level, receiving a ball out on the right flank before cutting into the box and firing in a shot from an acute angle which deceived El Tri No1 Sanchez at his near post. Curiously, he was just one of four Jordans in action on Monday, along with team-mate Jordan Vercleyen and English pair Jordan Pickford (goalkeeper) and Cousins (defender). In total there are seven players named Jordan here at Mexico 2011.
375 – The number of minutes Germany had gone without conceding here in Mexico, between the goal scored by Ecuador’s Carlos Gruezo in their opening game and the penalty converted by England’s Samuel Magri in Monday’s quarter-final. Between Magri’s spot-kick and the Young Lions’ second from Hallam Hope was a gap of just 17 minutes.
With a completely different last four to the line-up at the same stage of Nigeria 2009, the semi-finals of Mexico 2011 are scheduled for Thursday 7 July. Uruguay meet Brazil in Guadalajara at 15.00 (local time). The second semi will be played between Mexico and Germany in Torreon, kicking off at 18.00.