Mini-Tri comes up short in U-17 World Cup final

Rafael Martinez and Luis Puente of Mexico react at the final whistle in the Under-17 World Cup final (Photo by Martin Rose - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Rafael Martinez and Luis Puente of Mexico react at the final whistle in the Under-17 World Cup final (Photo by Martin Rose - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) /

Team Mexico’s dreams of a third Under-17 World Cup trophy came to a tragic end as Brazil helped by a controversial penalty.

With less than 25 minutes remaining in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup final, Mexico was leading the heavily favored hosts, Brazil. Bryan Gonzalez’s headed goal in minute 66 had given the Mini-Tri a 1-0 lead and Marco Antonio Ruiz’s team was playing a sound tactical game.

El Tri fought back every Brazil attack – and there were many – until the ref interrupted the game to announce he was going to review a possible penalty. The video assistant referee had spotted a potential foul in the box and ref Andris Treimanis agreed and pointed to the spot.

El Tri certainly had every reason to be aggrieved because the foul by Alejandro Gomez was a ticky-tack foul. Kaio Jorge converted the penalty and the score was tied in minute 84. Brazil had momentum and El Tri was on its heels, and even moreso after Daniel Cabral hit the crossbar with a shot a few minutes later.

El Tri U-17 final
Bryan Gonzalez (center) is mobbed by teammates after scoring for Mexico in the U-17 World Cup final against Brazil to give El Tri a 1-0 lead in minute 66 . (Photo by Buda Mendes – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) /

Two minutes into added time, the Brazilian team found a hole in Mexico’s defense and Lazaro raced in under a perfectly floated centering pass and volleyed home from close range. Eduardo Garcia, the goalie who had carried El Tri to the final, could not make the save and Brazil had a 2-1 victory to claim their fourth U-17 trophy.

Brazil was a deserving winner despite the controversy. The hosts won all three group games with ease, and rolled through the Round of 16, the quarterfinal and semifinal with a total of 17 goals in favor and only 5 against.

El Mini-Tri, on the other hand, barely got out of the group stage with a 1-1- record, qualifying for the Round of 16 as one of the best third-place teams. Mexico tightened things up from there on, defeating Japan 1-0 in the Round of 16 and sneaking past South Korea in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals against the Netherlands, Mexico seemed outmatched, but Ruiz’s lads got a late equalizer from an Efrain Alvarez free kick, then advanced by winning in a penalty kick shoot-out. Garcia was the hero, making three saves during the shoot-out.

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In the final, Brazil was the more confident team and it showed throughout the game. They controlled possession and created plenty of scoring opportunities. Garcia was kept busy between the posts and Brazil’s Peglow banged the post with a shot in minute 17.

Mexico scrambled but maintained enough defensive discipline to frustrate the Brazilian team. Then, in the 66th minute Pachuca product Eugenio Pizzuto delivered a cross to another Pachuca player, Bryan Gonzalez, who placed the ball back into the net with a splendid header.

As heart breaking and disappointing the game ended, truly the young kids should not be ashamed of anything after reaching Mexico’s third U-17 World Cup final in the past 14 years. The future is definitely bright and should be rewarding for all the young kids that placed Mexico in the highest mountain in the tournament: goalkeeper Eduardo Garcia, midfielder and captain Eugenio Pizzuto , stand out defenders Alejandro Gomez, Victor Guzman and midfielder Efrain Alvarez.