Mexico give themselves hope
© AFP

Mexico have given themselves an outside chance of qualification for the last 16 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup after picking up a 4-1 win over Mali – their first of the competition.

Sitting on three points, thanks to goals from Marco Bueno, Jesus Corona, Jesus Escoboza and Uvaldo Luna, El Tri must now wait on the results from other groups before finding out whether they will progress.

Mexico were ahead inside two minutes, Bueno giving them the perfect start as they searched for qualification from a desperate spot at the foot of Group D without a point. The goal came gift-wrapped from the boot of Mali goalkeeper Germain Berthe, miss-kicking to the striker who turned the ball into an unguarded net.

Berthe was then called upon to produce a great reaction stop as Jesus Corona almost doubled their lead, but Corona was not to be denied at the second time of asking, heading Lopez's long free-kick back over the Mali keeper from the tightest of angles.

Mali coach Moussa Keita was clearly not happy with what he had seen, making a double substitution on 33 minutes but Mexico continued to look the brighter, with Corona evidently keen to increase his tally.

Berthe was forced into a good saving early in the second period when one-on-one with Bueno, looking to make amends for being none too convincing on both goals. He went a step closer when he tipped Corona's header over from Escoboza's ball in.

Mali fought back though, Bakary Nimaga going close with a flat, driven free-kick from 30 yards, before they pulled one back soon after with another effort from distance. The ball sat up nicely for Samba Diallo, who hit a dipping volley which bounced awkwardly in front of Sanchez and crept in.

The goal revitalised Mali and their loyal band of supporters, but Berthe had to be alert again to repel a header from an unmarked Escoboza. It should have been level but Nimanga's cross was just behind Diallo, giving Sanchez and Armando Zamorano the chance to clear off the line.

The sucker-punch arrived almost instantly, with a long goal-kick finding the sprinting Escoboza who, despite losing a boot, fired past Berthe from a tight angle. It could have been worse for Mali, but Berthe denied Zamorano moments after.

Luna's goal, slotted through Berthe's legs, may turn out to be crucial as it leaves Mexico Korea Republic on points, but ahead of Ghana on goal difference in the battle for a place in the last 16.