Samba music silenced as English prodigy send favorites home
New Delhi : Rhian Brewster struck a sensational hat-trick, his second in as many matches, as England handed pre-tournament favourites Brazil a stunning 3-1 defeat to cruise into their maiden FIFA U-17 World Cup final.
Brewster, who had scored a hat-trick in his side’s 4-1 decimation of the USA in the quarterfinals on Saturday, scored in the 10th, 39th and 77th minutes in front of a shell-shocked 63,881 Brazil supporting partisan crowd here. The triple strike took Brewster to seven goals, the highest in the tournament, and the Liverpool youth team player has once again shown that he is the best predator on show in the mega-event. This is the first time that a player has scored two hat-tricks in the same edition of a tournament.
Brazil, who were seeking their fourth title, were finally outwitted and outplayed by a more tactical and resilient side and they bowed out of the tournament with a heart-break. In fact, England, who created history by reaching their maiden semifinals in their fourth appearances, were clearly the better side as they did not allow Brazil to impose on them in the match, which was shifted out of Guwahati at the last minute due to poor playing conditions of the pitch following incessant rain.
England played an open game and had almost equal possession at 46 per cent and their attacking trio of Phil Phoden, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Brewster created a lot of problems for the Brazil defence, exposing their vulnerabilities for the second time after the Germany match. England had five shot on target while Brazil had nine but the South American champions were uncharacteristically wayward and showed shyness before the goal at the Salt Lake Stadium.
The famous creativity of Brazil was not there to be seen as England had better domination of the midfield play. Pocket dynamo Alan did his bit as he was the fulcrum of most of the Brazil attacks but the final pass rarely came today and even when it came, the strikers could not finish. The Carlos Amadeu side had come with a lot of promise and wherever they had played — in Kochi, Margao and here — they were the crowd’s favourites but they will return heartbroken and empty handed. They met with a scare against Germany in the quarterfinals and had to rally from one goal down to win the match 2-1. But today there was no rally of that kind as England shut the game on them early. Brazil had lost in the quarterfinals in the last edition in Chile in 2015. England were in front in the 10th match to the stunning silence of the partisan Brazil supporting crowd. Callum Hudson-Odoi did a fine job cutting in from the left flank and his pin-point cross was prodded towards goal by Brewster, who managed to stay onside.
Brazil keeper Brazao could only push it out again and Brewster sent the ball into the empty net on the rebound to score his fifth goal of the tournament. Just a minute before, Brewster’s extended legs missed a square pass from Phoden. Unlike the quarterfinal match against Germany last week, Brazil did not take much time to restore parity as they did it just 11 minutes later. In the 21st minute, after a neat exchange of passes with Marcos Antonio, Paulinho drilled a low shot which England keeper could not stopped. The rebound went to England center back and captain Joel Latibeaudiere, whose heavy touch gave a lurking Wesley to blast into the open net in a jiffy. In the 30th minute, a long ball from Vitao found Brenner onside and the England goal in front but he sent his shot wide after the angle was closed down by the onrushing goalkeeper. It was the turn of England to put pressure and that led to the former again taking the lead in the 39th minute. After England switched the play nicely to the right, Foden sent a pass inside the Brazil box for an overlapping run for Sessegnon. The Fulham boy got to the byline, managed to get the ball across. And after Brazil captain Vitao failed to deal with a deflection, Brewster was the quickest to react and fired home from close range.
The second half was a frantic tussle for supremacy and both sides had almost equal number of chances. Brazil had the first decent chance of the second session in the 50th minute and Marcos Antonio’s long shot off a Paulinho pass from outside the box was parried by the goalie. Four minutes later, it was the turn of England to have a go at the Brazil goal. Hudson-Odoi ran down the right and crossed perfectly for an unmarked Brewster in the centre but the Liverpool lad headed it over the bar. At the hour mark, Brazil managed to thread short passes from defence to attack and Paulinho gave the ball onto Brenner who was waiting at the edge of the box. But the resulting shot was again parried away by Anderson.
In 64th minute, Alan split the England centre backs with a wonderful through ball and found the run of Yuri Alberto but the substitute, who came in place of Brenner in 60th minute, could not take the shot under pressure from a defender. Brewster struck in the 77th minute after substitute Emile Smith Rowe got the better of his marker at the right flank and sent a perfect cross for the Liverpool boy to send the ball crashing to Brazil net.