Action from the FIFA Under-17 World Cup Championship Final match between Mexico (black) and Nigeria (white) on November 8, 2013, in Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Photo: Mexsport)
ABU DHABI, UAE – Mexico’s dream of repeating as FIFA U-17 World Cup champion was dashed Friday, as Nigeria captured its fourth crown with a 3-0 win in the final at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.
The title was a record fourth for the Nigerians, one more than Brazil, and its first since 2007.
Moments after Mexico had its best scoring chance of the first half, when Ivan Ochoa’s shot was parried over the crossbar by goalkeeper Alampasu, Nigeria quickly countered after the subsequent corner kick.
The Golden Eaglets had a 3-on-1 break and Taiwo Awoniyi played the ball to his left toward Musa Yahaya. Mexican midfielder Erick Aguirre sprinted over to challenge and inadvertently directed the ball into his own net to put the Africans ahead 1-0 in the ninth minute.
Nigeria, which was making its sixth appearance in the final, doubled the lead eleven minutes into the second half. Musa Muhammed uncorked a rocket from distance that a diving Raul Gudino saved, but could not grasp. Kelechi Iheanacho was there to tap in the rebound for his sixth goal of the tournament.
Muhammed ended any hopes of a Mexican comeback in the 81st minute, curling a free kick from 24-yards off the far post and into the net.
Nigeria was unfortunate not to tack onto its lead five minutes before the break with Yahaya striking a 17-yard shot off the crossbar on another counterattack.
Three minutes later, Gudino was forced to save a bicycle kick by Awoniyi from eight-yards out.
The best chance to equalize in the first half for Mexico, which was making its third appearance in the final, came in the 31st minute. Ulises Jaimes latched onto Ulises Rivas’ free kick and headed the ball across the face of goal, but the attempt was parried away for a throw.
Ochoa, who scored in all three of Mexico’s knockout stage wins, had a great chance to pull the defending champion within a goal in the 77th minute. His diving header of Aguirre’s driven cross from 11-yards out was wide to Alampasu’s left.
El Tri, which overcame Italy, Brazil and Argentina to reach the final, also lost the opening match of Group F to Nigeria, 6-1. It went on a five-match unbeaten streak, only to be solved by Nigeria again in the final.