- Mexico escape Korea Republic 1-0 at Estadio Kleber Andrade
- Ali Avila heads home the winning goal in the 77th minute
- El Tri will take on the Netherlands in the semi-finals
Substitute Ali Avila’s leaping header lifted Mexico over Korea Republic 1-0 on Sunday and into the semi-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™. After 77 minutes of staunch defensive performances from both sides, it was Korea Republic who blinked first. Jose Ruiz’s right-footed cross from the endline hung in the air, and Avila skied over his defender to redirect the ball into the far corner of the net, leaving goalkeeper Shin Songhoon flat-footed. The result sets up a semi-final between the North American champions and the Netherlands on 14 November in Brasilia.
Struggling with the obstinate Korea Republic defence for most of the match, Mexico found the one moment of magic they needed to advance. It came from Ruiz and Avila, who turned what looked like a half-chance into a goal 13 minutes from full time. El Tri came closest prior to that in the first half, when Alejandro Gomez bent his free-kick expertly around the Korean wall and pinged the crossbar from 27 yards. Goalkeeper Eduardo Garcia reacted quickly to deny Jeong Sangbin’s headed shot at the far post in the 85th minute, preserving the victory.
Like the Mexicans, Korea Republic also struck the crossbar in the first half. Stranded at the top of the formation, Choi Minseo became a one-man attack in the 14th minute, turning his defender and letting fly a bending shot that was inches from blazing into the back of the net. Though they enjoyed more possession in the first half, that was as close as the Asian side came to scoring until Sangbin’s near-equaliser late in the second half. In the end the Taegeuk Warriors could not generate enough goalscoring opportunities to overcome the late deficit.
Mexico-Netherlands (Brasilia, 16:30 local time)