By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Oct 25 (IANS) Talismanic striker Rhian Brewster fired his second hat-trick on the trot as England marched to their maiden Under-17 FIFA World Cup final with a clinical 3-1 win over Brazil at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan here on Wednesday.
The Englishmen, who have won all their six matches so far, would now take on the victors of the other semi final between Spain and Mali — scheduled later in the evening — in Saturday’s summit clash at the same venue.
Brewster struck a brace in the first half (10th and 39th minutes) before finding the net again in the 77th minute in the thrilling and fast semi-final, that saw an attendance of nearly 64,000 spectators. The Liverpool player had also scored a hat-trick in England’s 4-1 win over the United States in the quarter-final, and now leads the scorers’ list with seven goals.
Three-time champions Brazil’s only goal came from Wesley (21st) and they would now take on the losing semi-finalists in a clash for the third place hours before the final.
The game, which was moved from Guwahati to Kolkata due to soggy ground conditions at the Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium following heavy rain, rose to dizzying heights, with both teams playing picture-perfect passes and displaying great ball control.
The constant attacks and counter-attacks saw the ball travelling fast at both ends, with the bulk of the spectators rooting for Brazil.
But England’s superb midfield organisation and lethal attack force outclassed Brazil. The hardworking Philip Foden was the pivot in the English moves with his nippy runs and sublime distribution creating constant havoc in the Brazilian defensive third.
England went into the lead as early as the 10th minute somewhat against the run of play. Morgan Gibbs White won the ball from Brazilian right-back Wesley and fed Callum Hudson-Odoi, who in turn set up Brewster. The latter scored on the rebound after his first attempt was blocked by rival custodian Brazao.
Stung by the goal, Brazil went all out and twice came close to scoring. First, Lincoln failed to connect from six yards out, with the ball travelling to skipper Vitao a handshaking distance from the goal. But the assistant referee raised the flag to rule him offside.
A shortwhile later, Wesley set out on a long run and found Paulinho inside the box, but the hero of the quarter-final against Germany shot wide.
But Brazil’s constant thrusts paid dividends soon enough. Receiving a cross, Wesley again struck up a fine combination with Paulinho, and then let loose a right footer which was only partially saved by Anderson. Paulinho waiting close by made no mistake on the rebound.
However, the relief in the Brazil benches lasted only 18 minutes. Foden did the spadework from the right of the box, releasing to Sessegnon, who cut back and Brewster finished off to score his sixth goal of the tourney.
A minute from the half-time whistle, Brazilian striker Lincoln muffed up a chance by heading wide after Waverson had sent a delicate cross into the box.
Crossing over, both teams had their chances, but England were more impressive in the initial minutes with Brewster heading over in the 54th minute.
But as the clock ticked Brazil went all out, but Anderson thwarted a Brenner effort before substitute Yuri Alberto missed a sitter in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper.
Weverson then found Lincoln, whose angled header was off the mark.
As the English defence soldiered on, Brewster was on target to give a further cushion to his team. Phoden again showed his skills to move up and essayed a pass to substitute Emile Smith Rowe, whose measured cross was put into the net by Brewster, ensuring England’s passage to the final.
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