FIFA U-17 WORLD CUP
A hat-trick from Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster sent England into Saturday’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup final with a 3-1 win over Brazil wednesday.
Steve Cooper’s side weathered Kolkata’s 29c heat and humidity, plus sustained pressure from their opponents.
Brewster took his chances well and was assisted by the impressive Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden.
England will face Spain – who beat Mali 3-1 in Wednesday’s other semi-final, with Abel Ruiz scoring twice.
The Young Lions will look to match their Under-20 counterparts, who won their World Cup in June.
It took only 10 minutes for Brewster to get his first, meeting an inch-perfect delivery from Chelsea’s 16-year-old midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi and finishing at the second attempt.
Flamengo defender Wesley capped a dominant response from Brazil with the equaliser after 21 minutes, and striker Brenner rolled wide a great chance to put them ahead 15 minutes before the break.
But Brewster’s second, taking him top of the tournament’s goalscoring chart, sent England in 2-1 up at half-time.
The 17-year-old completed his hat-trick in the 76th minute after a pin-point low cross from Emile Smith Rowe and England kept their cool to withstand Brazil’s late rally.
“I really believe in our players and I think whoever we play against we can be a match and be better than the opposition,” said England head coach Cooper. “But we have to work hard for that. We’ll never change our style. We believe in it.
“There isn’t a bigger game they can play in their career at their age than a World Cup knockout game. And obviously they are going to go and play the ultimate game – the final.”
A hat-trick in a 4-1 quarter-final victory over the USA, followed by another in Wednesday’s semi-final, made the 17-year-old the competition’s top scorer.
“No words to describe how we all feel right now!! One last big push ahead fully focused on that now”, he wrote on Twitter after the Brazil game.
His prolific form follows in the footsteps of Kelechi Iheanacho, now at Leicester City, who won player of the tournament at the 2013 Under-17s World Cup and narrowly missed out on the golden boot.
Iheanacho joined the Foxes from Manchester City for £25m this summer, but Liverpool will be unlikely to entertain the prospect of Brewster going anywhere – except Jurgen Klopp’s first-team.