- Mexico outlast the Netherlands 4-3 on penalties
- Match ended 1-1 in regulation
- El Tri advance to their fourth FIFA U-17 World Cup final
Eduardo Garcia made a trio of terrific penalty shoot-out saves to propel Mexico into the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™ on Thursday at Brasilia’s Estadio Bezerrao. The semi-final showdown between El Tri and the Netherlands ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and went directly to spot-kicks. It was there that Garcia shined brightest, denying Mohamed Taabouni, Jayden Braaf and Youri Regeer to secure a fourth appearance for the North American champions in the showpiece match.
It was a relatively conservative start to the tie for both sides, with the opening 60 minutes offering few clear-cut goalscoring chances. In the closing half-hour, the Oranje upped the tempo, pressuring Garcia and the Mexico defence. Melayro Bogarde created the Dutch breakthrough in the 74th minute, but substitute Efrain Alvarez equalised five minutes later with an expertly-curled free-kick from 26 yards. Alvarez began the penalty shoot-out with a panenka attempt that Calvin Raatsie comfortably saved, but Garcia’s heroics spurred Mexico towards a chance to compete for their third U-17 world title.
Bogarde’s tip-toeing act down the endline broke open the match for the Netherlands, and it was a deserved goal. The Hoffenheim player burst into the box let loose a cross that was deflected into the back of the net, putting the Dutch ahead. But a moment of brilliance from Alvarez dragged the European champions right back to level terms. Though Raatsie made two saves of his own in the shoot-out, he was out-dueled by Garcia, and the Netherlands fell one step short of their first U-17 World Cup final appearance.
Netherlands-France/Brazil (Brasilia, 15:00 local time)
Mexico-France/Brazil (Brasilia, 19:00 local time)