Germany's hopes of keeping the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Europe were ended in cruel fashion with a last-minute 3-2 semi-final defeat by hosts Mexico.
Having racked up 18 goals in beating Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Panama, the United States and England to set up the Torreon encounter with a Mexico side who had also won all six of their games, Germany overcame an early deficit to go ahead on the hour. However, the hosts turned the game around in the last 14 minutes, leaving Germany coach Steffen Freund to reflect: "We are disappointed, obviously, but we must give our full congratulations to Mexico.
I am very proud of my team for what they have done here at the World Cup."
Aiming to emulate 2009 winners Switzerland and become the fourth European world champions at this level, Germany fell behind on three minutes to a Julio Gómez header before Samed Yesil soon equalised with his sixth goal of the tournament – to add to 11 in his country's run to second place at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship. On the hour Germany captain Emre Can produced a fine solo goal but Jorge Espericueta equalised straight from a 76th-minute corner and Gómez, who had received stitches in a head injury suffered during that equaliser, won it with an overhead kick with penalties looming.
Runners-up in the inaugural 1985 competition, Germany will bid for a second third-place finish from the last three editions on Sunday against Brazil at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, a match immediately followed by the hosts taking on Uruguay for the title. Freund said: "The next match with Brazil is something we will consider once we've settled from this loss. The hot weather and the pressure from the fans were not a big problem today – the atmosphere was fantastic and we knew what to expect. My players are a little sad right now, but they will get over it and try to finish the tournament with a medal."
Of the other European contenders, France lost to Mexico in the quarter-finals, as did England to Germany, while continental champions the Netherlands, Denmark and Czech Republic all fell in the group stage. The next UEFA European U17 Championship begins with the qualifying round from 21 September, with the eight-team final tournament in Slovenia next May.
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