Morning shows the day – says who? Not England for sure. A team that had let in two – in the 10th and 31st minute goals didn’t lose its morale rather held its shape to rectify its follies. And then went about to change the day in their favour and how. It was for the very first time in this tournament, except for the group-stage draw after full-time against Japan, that they couldn’t take the lead, it was also for the first time that they scored 5 goals in a match in this edition. Talking about firsts it was of course England’s first appearance in the finale, never having crossed the quarter-final stage in their previous three appearances. Spain had been runners up before. And they came into this main draws by winning the U17 European Championships defeating the very team that they were to meet in the finale. So revenge obviously was in the air. Whatever be it, a new champion was sure to emerge.
It was an energetic thrilling game with both teams playing passes galore. Scintillating throughs had replaced long-balls. England who seemed better adjusted to the heat and humidity and perhaps to the pitch conditions as well – this being their ‘home ground’- made the most of it. At the end-whistle, the scoreboard told us that we should not put a limit to unbelievability.
In the end this mother of all comebacks was a fitting final.
Here below are the top 5 players of this match.
Callum Hudson-Odoi | England | Left Wing
He combined with Philip Foden like ducks take to hot water to own both the flanks. It is no co-incidence that he did not – rather could not score – he was busy selflessly supplying. Throughout the evening he out-paced the right-back with his run and baffled him with his ghosts. The first assist came soon after they conceded. He moves inside-out and turned the trajectory towards Foden in the 13th minute but alas it was inches above that waiting forehead. One of the few times he got to try on his own – say in the 38th minute – it went wide. Clearly unlucky was his attempt in the 43rdminute. He cuts inside his left flank and curls it across the frame-work on the run, but it hit the far post. A minute later came the first equalizer.
In a brief space of three minutes – 62nd and 65th minute, the Chelsea winger sets up Foden nice and good but he was uncharacteristically not able to capitalize on it. Foden does make use of his 68th minute measured floater to take England ahead by 3-2. Towards the end the only way to stop Hudson-Odoi would be to do a rugby tackle which the right-back, Mateu Jaume of FC Barcelona actually resorts to in the 83rd minute. Decisively his final pass begets the final score in the 88th minute as England romp home with a 5-2 margin.
One has to understand that despite Foden, he claimed the top spot.
Philip Foden | England | Right Winger
He was adjourned as the player of the tournament for nothing. This ‘Golden Ball’ awardee kept Spains’s left back Juan Miranda thoroughly busy and frustrated with his incisive runs. He had a head-in opportunity in the 40th minute from inside the six-yard box but might have been pulled back by Hugo Guillamon. He came close to supply an effective final pass in the 48th minute but he looked at Brewster a bit too early and lost the ball. He exhibited his “on another level” citation by Pep Guardiola when in 53rd minute he displayed his wizardry to win a corner from his wizardly ball-control in 18-yard box. He took a one-two set-piece to glide impressively into the penalty box but his shot was desperately deflected away. Three minutes later his leg-work is polished off by Morgan Gibbs-White. Foden’s leg-work misdirection ripples through the length of the Spanish backline and when the pass is mailed to full back, Sessegnon who was clear on the right. Sesegnon squares it to Gibs-White who just has to tap in for the first equalizer.
Six minutes later, in the 62nd minute, the Manchester City lad came near to have a goal of his own. He brought down a Hudson-Odoi delivery from the deep left and sensing opportunity amidst free acreage left by the opposition; he goes solo forcing Alvaro Fernandez, the Spanish Goalie into a decent save. Another six minutes and Foden will have his goal. The 68th minute play was exactly similar to the last described – Hudson-Odoi’s out-powers a Spanish full-back to send in a cross from left, to be redirected across the woodwork and into the unhindered back-space. It must have been specially sweet as England took the lead, now 3-2, having been 0-2 down. Quite fittingly Foden’s second was the last goal for the day –crowning the tenacious comeback with a 5-2 wonder score-line. Again, Hudson-Odoi’s phenomenal supply is tamed gently by and whipped low below the underside of a clueless Fernandez.
Sergio Gomez | Spain | Forward
He was the only player who shone throughout the match. The others were bright for a brief period of time but he pulled his weight along the length of the match. He opened his, Spains’s and the match’s account on the 10th minute. Barca defender, Juan Miranda’s cross from the left saw Gelabert shaking his defenders, chesting it down with dexterity for Gomez to thump it in. This Barcelona FC striker comes good again after 21 minutes. Spain launches a counter-attack with Cesar Gelabert, the Real Madrid CF working his magic on the right side of the penalty area. Like a seasoned league player he lobs it in the huddle in the hope of catching his mates and finds Gomez, who was only happy to oblige with a precession strike. He came threatening close in 46th minutes with his promising corner but English goalie, Curtis Anderson was equally up to it.
Steven Sessegnon | England | Right Back
He had a good day in the office except for an initial faux-pas of sorts. He put Gomez in the play by going too deep to close in on the initial cross or else it might have been an off-side. That apart he tried his best for his team – say in the 23rd minute, he cut inside of the right-wing to bet on his left-foot only to see it sail high and wide. His supply brought in the first equalizer through Brewster in the 44th minute, who caught a beautifully set-up cross from the byline by this right-back. He squares a Foden through-pass to Wolves’ Midfielder, Morgan Gibbs-White who promptly taps it home. An equally decisive effort came in the 73rd minute when he saw himself repudiate Victor Chust, a Real Madrid defender’s header from the goal-line. If it would have gone in the score would have stood at 3-3, and who knows what could have happened thereafter. He brought his defensive skill to the fore again in the 82nd minute timing his challenge to thwart a menacing Spanish move. For his troublesome activities he drew out a yellow card from Miranda in the 63rd minute.
Morgan Gibbs-White | Winger
He had the first clear chance of the evening. In the 2nd minute, Gibbs-White, the Wolves Midfielder who it to the first-team last season in the Sky Bet Championships, runs-in from the deep and one-two with Brewster takes him inside the penalty area where his delicious shot is fisted by Fernandez. His other attempt – at the 50th minute didn’t bear fruit. Manoeuvring the ball from right to his left, he hit it on sighting an opportunity but it was a wild attempt. Inside of 10 minutes from then, at the 58th minute mark to be precise, he sketched his name in the score-sheet.
Rested in the 80th minute to give Crystal Palace midfielder, Niya Kirby, some finale minutes on the pitch, his work-rate had been great.