The Golden Eaglets’ premature exit from the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup opened the door for the South American young guns to steal a march on Nigeria’s record title haul.
After three long weeks of intense football rivalry and the showcasing of heartwarming artistry from the game’s future stars, a last-gasp winner helped hosts Brazil overcome a talented Mexican side on Sunday and secure their fourth under-17 triumph, with Nigeria’s five wins now within reach of the new champions.
The World Cup ended in humbling fashion for the tournament’s most successful side in the round of 16 when the Netherlands handed out a 3-1 thrashing to coach Manu Garba boys after an inconsistent run in the group stages.
But the tournament proper came to a thrilling close on Sunday when World Cup hosts Brazil claimed a 2-1 win over Mexico thanks to Lazaro Vinicius Marques’ 93rd-minute winner to bag their fourth Under-17 World Cup trophy in front of jubilant home fans.
The final match between two of the tournament’s finest attacking teams lived up to its high billings.
After a goalless first half, Bryan Alonso Gonzalez Olivan headed home the opener for Mexico – winners of the showpiece tournament in 2005 and 2011 – just past the hour mark as doubts crept into the hearts of Brazilian fans who had expected their side to stroll to an easy victory.
But with six minutes of regulation left, thanks to Kaio Jorge’s penalty, Brazil were back on level terms to once again show the incredible die-hard spirit that had earned them a stunning 3-2 win over France in the semifinal after going down 2-0 in the first half.
And deep into stoppage time when Lazaro volleyed home the last-gasp winner, the hosts completed the comeback to lift another World Cup on home soil.
This latest triumph adds to Brazil’s successes in 1997, 1999 and 2003 as they move within one of Nigeria’s record of five championships.