- Rhian Brewster scores a treble and sets up one in quarter-final win
- England forward takes home the match ball
- Brazil or Germany in the semi-final: "We fear nobody"
Agile. Dynamic. Ruthless.
Before Saturday’s quarter-final in Goa, the third quality on that list was not one that could immediately be attributed to Rhian Brewster's displays at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. Against USA, however, England's no9 seemed all of a sudden to have found his shooting boots again. "Yeah, I've missed a few chances in the tournament so far. But hey, I scored a hat-trick today!" beamed the 17-year-old to FIFA.com after England's 4-1 victory.
The Liverpool forward scored three and assisted another, as the Three Lions saw off the Stars and Stripes to reach the semi-finals of the U-17 World Cup for the first time. Holding the match ball and wearing a wide smile, he continued: "I'll be taking this home. First, I'll let the lads sign it and then I'll get it framed."
Brewster's goal tally for the tournament has now risen to four after a performance that showcased his array of striking talents. For his first goal, he was positioned exactly where a goalscorer needs to be to stab in a rebound. For his second, he showed the defender a clean pair of heels and chipped in a clever finish. He then set up England's third by starting the move in his own half and ending it with a perfect cross for his team-mate. For the fourth goal, he could only be stopped illegally. After winning the penalty, he converted it himself.
Leading the line as the lone striker, Brewster caused the USA defence problems all game. England's wide players Philip Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who both impressed, looked for Brewster constantly, and found him more often than not, usually when he made one of his many dangerous runs between the two central defenders. "That was maybe the key today," said the 17-year-old forward. "We knew that their No6 wasn't a centre-back by trade, so I kept trying to bring my pace into the game in that part of the pitch."
How fitting that he plays for a club coached by Jurgen Klopp and has already trained once or twice with the Reds' first team, since Brewster already appears to be displaying the tempo for which Liverpool's German coach is famed. The youngster's pace over the first few metres, as well as at the end of a sprint, stood out against USA and made him extremely difficult to defend against. "I'm not that type of big, strong centre-forward," said Brewster with a smile and an almost apologetic shrug of the shoulders. "So I always try to use my speed to my advantage. Today, that worked well, especially for the second goal."
His first two chances ended up in the back of the net. That type of clinical edge is vital, since it gives the player confidence and his team security. And with his penalty, Brewster did not give the goalkeeper even a hint of an opportunity. "It was a fantastic day for me today - somehow everything came together. Obviously, I hope that continues, but this match is a massive highlight in my career."
Up next is one of Brazil or Germany, but he does not mind which team they face. "Whoever we play, we fear nobody." The U-20 side showed a few months ago in Korea Republic that England can win a World Cup again, and Brewster and his team-mates now want to write their own history. "Their achievement is obviously an inspiration for us. Now, we want to emulate that."
If it is Germany that await, and if the semi-final does end in a penalties, then this time Steve Cooper's side will be confident after beating Japan in the last 16 by scoring all five spot-kicks. With confidence in his voice and touching the England badge on his shirt, Brewster will be more than ready for another duel from 12 yards. "We aren't afraid of penalties - we're England!"