Marco Granados celebrates after scoring the third goal during Mexico's 3-0 win over Argentina in FIFA U-17 World Cup semifinal at the Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium on November 5, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo: FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UAE – Ivan Ochoa struck for a first-half brace to lead Mexico to a 3-0 win over nine-man Argentina in the FIFA U-17 World Cup semifinals on Tuesday at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.
The defending champion will attempt to win its third tournament title Friday, also in Abu Dhabi, against either Sweden or Nigeria in the final.
Ochoa has scored in all three of Mexico’s knockout stage matches and put his team in front just five minutes into the game. Ulises Rivas followed his blocked corner kick with service into the box. A failed Argentine clearance was headed back towards the goal by Salomon Wbias from near the penalty spot. The ball bounced at the edge of the six-yard box for the swooping Ochoa, who took a touch and lifted it over goalkeeper Augusto Batalla to give Mexico a 1-0 lead.
Rivas started the sequence that led to Ochoa’s second goal in the 21st minute, sending a free kick from midfield into the box, where Ulies James headed the ball towards the back post. Ochoa pounced, crashing the net and sliding in to put Mexico in front, 2-0.
Marco Granados ended any hopes of an Argentine comeback four minutes from full time, putting a first-time attempt past Batalla from 12 yards after being slipped behind the defense by Omar Govea.
Argentina, which defeated Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals, 2-1, had a golden chance to take the lead one minute before Ochoa’s first strike. The South Americans were awarded a penalty after Sebastian Driussi was taken down in the box by Wbias. Driussi took the penalty himself, but Mexico goalkeeper Raul Gudino, the hero of an epic penalty-kick shootout against Brazil in the quarterfinals, dived left to parry away the attempt.
In the 31st minute, Argentina, which last reached the semifinals in 2003, was reduced to 10 men, when Joaquin Ibanez was given a straight red card for stomping a Mexican player.
Batalla was then sent off in the second minute of second-half stoppage time for a tackle on Christian Tovar outside the box.