By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Oct 11 (IANS) A second half brace in the space of seven minutes by Diego Lianez went in vain as stubborn Mexico went down 2-3 to England who booked their passage into the knockout stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan here on Wednesday.
Rhian Brewster (39th), Phil Foden (48th) and Jadon Sancho 55th, penalty) scored for the winners, before Lainez pulled back in the 65th and 72nd minutes.
England now lead Group F collecting six points from two games and play Iraq on Saturday at the same venue, while Mexico take on Chile in Guwahati on the same day. Mexico have one point from two outings.
England played the same team that did duty in their emphatic 4-0 victory over Chile while Mexico made one change from their 1-1 draw versus Iraq with defender Luis Olivas replacing Alan Maeda.
Mexico coach Mario Arteaga had said on the eve of the match that they have their plans in place for the English and would look to exploit their untested defence.
On the field, the Mexicans looked to be executing their plans to perfection till the 39th minute. Jadon Sancho, who starred in the game against Chile, was kept in check by the well drilled backline while the slow pace of the North American side tired the nippy England attackers till the half-hour mark.
After both teams got a corner each in the opening exchanges, the Young Lions saw a gilt-edged chance go abegging as Brewster skied a right-footer from handshaking distance after being set up by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Sancho too volleyed over as Steve Cooper’s colts found the going tough with the Mexico defenders clinging to them at all times.
On the other side, highly-rated Jairo Torres found space between Timothy Emoya and Phil Foden to maze his way into the box before his pass ricocheted off Roberto De La Rosa and went out for a goal kick.
Just when Mexico thought they had managed to keep their rivals at bay, England scored from a set piece.
After Foden was fouled near the box, Brewster curled a delectable free kick that flew over the wall and dipped into the top right corner.
At halftime, England led 1-0.
Both teams made one change after halftime with Cesar Huerta replacing Daniel Lopez for Mexico and Manchester United’s Angel Gomes coming in place of Hudson-Odoi.
Three minutes into the second half, England doubled their advantage with a slick goal.
After Sancho got past two defenders to play a neat one-two with Gomes, Foden was on hand just in front of the ‘D’ to place a right-footer into the top right corner with goalkeeper Cesar Lopez standing no chance to save.
Sancho extended the margin soon after by winning and converting a penalty with Mexico skipper Carlos Robles giving away a handball from the Borussia Dortmund whizkid’s cross.
A comeback looked next to impossible but Lainez, dubbed as the Mexican Lionel Messi, had other intentions.
His first goal came off a deflection from centre-back Joel Latibeaudiere after George Mceachran was dispossessed, while the second was a chipped left-footed finish which dipped into the bottom right corner.
Mexico came close to drawing level on two occasions with Alexis Gutierrez and Torres spurning good opportunities.
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