A brace from Abel Ruiz booked Spain's place in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup final after they beat Mali 3-1 at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Ruiz scored twice in the first half to give Spain the lead at the break, before Ferran Torres made it three with 20 minutes to go. Mali got one back three minutes later but Spain held on to set up a showdown against England in the final on Saturday.
The talking point of the match, however, came with half-an-hour to go as Mali were denied a goal when Oumar Doucoure's shot from long range that hit the bar and came back appeared to have just made it over the line. The referee didn't spot the ball going in, and Mali's coaching staff, who saw the replays on the big screen at the stadium, were furious at the decision, frantically waving in front of the referee; one of the members of the coaching staff was shown a yellow card for dissent.
Spain carried on to beat the tournament's second-best goal-scorers to make it a repeat of the Euro 2017 final against England. This was Mali's second defeat of the tournament after being beaten in their first group game.
César Gelabert was the creator of Spain's first two goals. After several attempts on goal from both teams, Gelabert was fouled in the box when his deft turn drew a foul from Abdoulaye Diaby to give Spain a penalty. Ruiz stepped up to finish it with ease and give the European champions the lead. Mali came back strong with shots on goal, putting Spain under pressure, but the end-product wasn't there as they were punished as they headed for the break.
Gelabert played Ruiz through with a fine ball and Ruiz duly side-footed it into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 at the cusp of half-time.
Mali, who had 30 shots on goal to Spain's 10, were on the attack in the second-half, but were unable to break down a well-oiled Spanish defence. Mali had to be content with long shots and it was one such that almost gave them a goal at 2-0 down. The shot from Doucoure hit the bar and replays showed the ball had crossed the line after it bounced off the ground. The goal was not given, and Spain went on to make it 3-0 to add to Mali's misery.
Torres, who had a quiet game, headed in Spain's third from a Sergio Gómez cross that came from the left. Mali got a goal back three minutes after Torres' goal, through Lassana N'Diaye. Mali's top-scorer of the tournamen converted at the near post after going through one-on-one with the keeper.
Mali failed to make the most of the momentum though as Spain held on to reach their fourth U-17 World Cup final.