Mali have taken an early lead in Group D at the FIFA U-20 World Cup after a 2-0 win over Mexico at Dunedin's Otago Stadium. The match was won and lost in a crazy second-half in which three players - one Malian, two Mexican - were sent off before two goals in three minutes decided the outcome.
El Tri will be cursing themselves, having been a man up and firmly on top, and the CONCACAF champions certainly dominated a poor first half. However, in a game of few chances, they could ill afford to miss the kind of gilt-edged opportunity Guillermo Martinez passed up on 34 minutes. He did all the hard work, jinking cleverly into the box after racing clear on the the right, but his finish was wild with the goal at his mercy, with the ball flying high and wide.
If the first period was fairly dull, the second was anything but. Passions had been slowly rising as the game became increasingly physical and Hamidou Maiga paid the price, receiving his marching orders on 56 minutes after clumsily bringing down Hirving Lozano.
But then, just as Mexico seemed to have the game within their grasp, they self-destructed. Within a period of two minutes, they went from being a man up to finding themselves one down, with Diego Gama sent off following an off-the-ball incident and Oscar Bernal earning a second yellow for bringing down Souleymane Diarra.
That left Mali's way clear and they took full advantage, moving into the lead with 14 minutes remaining when Adama Traore headed home from Youssouf Kone's inviting free-kick. The points were then sealed just three minutes later when Dieudonne Gbakle scored a cracker, working a one-two with Alassane Diallo, swerving past a couple of despairing challenges and shooting low just inside the far post.