Mali made light work of Concacaf champions Mexico in the last 16 of the FIFA Under 17 World Cup Indonesia 2023 to cruise into the tournament’s quarter-finals.
Player-of-the-match, Mahamoud Barry, scored twice and laid on another as Mali stormed through to the last eight with a stunning demolition of Mexico in Surabaya.
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Les Aigles were irresistible throughout, with the outcome all-but settled inside a one-sided opening 15 minutes in which the outclassed Mexicans conceded three times.
Barry was the difference-maker during this period, with his superb opening goal – curled home from 20 yards at the end of a flowing Mali move – setting the tone for what was to follow.
The athletic No.19’s second goal came just four minutes later, and from a near-identical position, with clever approach work again capped by a powerful and precise finish.
Mexico simply had no answer to their African opponents, and fell further behind soon.
This was after Ibrahim Diarra’s shot sneaked past Paolo Bedolla and into the bottom-left corner.
The Concacaf champions’ keeper was left thumping the ground in frustration again when Mali went 4-0 up.
This was after having again got a hand to the ball, but not a firm enough contact to prevent Ibrahim Kanate’s penalty finding the net.
Mali’s dominance was maintained in the second half, and Barry helped apply salt to Mexican wounds with a teasing 50th minute cross that was matched in quality by Ange Martial Tia’s brilliant diving header.
The impressive Africans can now look forward to a quarter-final against either Iran or continental rivals, Morocco, the team that beat them on penalties in the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations semifinals.