26 October 2017

Africa: Ruiz Tees Up European Rematch

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A 3-1 win over Mali lined up a re-run of the UEFA European U-17 Championship climax, as Spain triumphed to book a date with England in the FIFA U-17 World Cup final.

Two goals from Abel Ruiz, and another courtesy of Ferran Torres, in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday were enough to prevent the African champions from reaching back-to-back finals.

Spain started brightly but were kept honest by a counter-attacking Mali, who saw Lassana N'Diaye clip the outside of the post inside the first ten minutes. However, the European champions were given an opening they did not spurn, as captain Ruiz converted from the penalty spot after Cesar Gelabert was felled.

Mali were not cowed, pressing Spain and playing on the front foot, though this ultimately brought about La Rojita's second. Gelabert again was the instigator, feeding Ruiz with a superb pass to see the No9 slot round the Mali goalkeeper from 20 yards out.

Mali were far from beaten, though, playing with energy and positivity. They came desperately close to halving the deficit when Cheick Oumar Doucoure rattled the crossbar, but a slick move at the other end saw Ruiz and Sergio Gomez combine before Ferran finished off the move.

Hope glimmered for Mali when N'Diaye slotted home smartly with 15 minutes to go, but Spain held firm to reach the tournament finale.

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