- Italy defeated Mexico 2-1 at the Estadio Bezerrao
- Gli Azzurrini are bound for the knockout phase
- Iyenoma Udogie netted the deciding goal at the death
It took nearly every second of match time available for Italy to see off Mexico 2-1 on Thursday in their Group F battle at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™. Iyenoma Udogie’s winner came four minutes into second-half stoppage time – only two minutes after Efrain Alvarez scored the goal that appeared to salvage a point for El Tri. Instead Italy stamped their place in the Round of 16 at Mexico’s expense.
Udogie was the late hero for Gli Azzurrini, but goalkeeper Marco Molla’s performance afforded him the opportunity. The Bologna youth product’s evening included the first penalty save of this U-17 World Cup, when he denied Israel Luna in the 38th minute. Molla made two more point-blank saves on Luna attempts towards the end of each half, terrorising Mexico’s No10. Degnand Gnonto claimed Italy’s first goal with a barreling individual effort in the 74th minute.
It was a cruel end to a frustrating night for the Mexicans. At times their attack was menacing, with Luna and Bruce El Mesmari linking up well and probing the weak points of the Italian central defence. Alvarez’s breakthrough two minutes into second-half stoppage time felt deserved; minutes earlier Molla made a fine save of Luna’s attempt from nine yards away. The lone consolation for El Tri is that their two toughest opponents of the group are now behind them.