Mali reached their first FIFA U-17 World Cup semi-final and continued their impressive defensive record in Chile with a 1-0 win over Croatia. Sekou Koita's first half effort was enough to see off the European side and send Dario Basic's side home.
The opening half saw the African side take the initiative, with Amadou Haidara going close from distance first from open play and then from a set-piece, but Croatian stopper Adrian Semper equal to both efforts.
Koita showed Haidara how to finish clinically. Sidiki Maiga expertly hooked a long crossfield ball back behind him as he sprinted towards the Croatian touchline. The 15-year-old forward followed up and hit a low shot left-footed into the bottom right-hand corner across Semper.
The second half was bereft of clear-cut chances, with the Croatians failing to carve out any meaningful opportunities. The Malian defence, marshalled well by Abdoul Dante despite his early booking ruling him out of the historic semi-final, dealt with every attack the Europeans threw at them. Semper was called upon in the Croatian goal a handful of times, with Boubacar Traore kept out courtesy of a smart save, while Aly Malle and Koita were foiled by the Dinamo Zagreb stopper.
Mali held firm, and will head to La Serena for a final four showdown against either Belgium or Costa Rica, who face off in Concepcion tomorrow.