Adama Traore produced two terrific long-range strikes to help Mali beat 10-man Senegal 3-1 and clinch third place at Fifa’s under-20 World Cup at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium on Saturday.
Traore had brought his side back into the game after Senegal’s Ibrahima Wadji had opened the scoring in the 64th minute, when his left footed free-kick curled away from Ibrahima Sy in the 74th.
It was Traore again for Mali to give his side the lead.
He blasted a right foot shot past Sy, who had saved a 76th minute penalty from Falaye Sacko, to put Mali 2-1 up with less than seven minutes remaining.
Sacko’s day got worse when he handled the ball in the area about two minutes after Traore’s second goal, though Djigui Diarra pulled off a superb double save when he stopped the Malick Niang spot kick and the follow-up attempt.
Mali completed the victory when Diadie Samassekou caught Senegal’s’ defence napping at a free-kick to slot home the third in added time.
Senegal defender Moussa Ba had been sent off in the final minute of the first half by Egyptian referee Ghead Grisha for his second yellow card.
The frenetic final 25 minutes were a contrast to the opening half, when opportunities were rare and fouls were frequent between the west African neighbours.
There were 44 fouls in the match, but it developed into an enthralling encounter.
The victory equals Mali’s best ever placing at the Fifa under-20 World Cup.
They also took third place in 1999 in Nigeria, beating Uruguay 1-0 in the play-off match with Roma’s Seydou Keita scoring the winner.
For Senegal, this was their first ever appearance at the Fifa under-20 World Cup finals.
Serbia were crowned the 2015 under-20 champions, beating Brazil 2-1 in the final.
Nemanja Maksimovic scored an 118th minute goal on the counter attack to give Serbia victory in extra time.
The game had been locked at 1-1 after regulation time after Stanisa Mandic had given the Serbs hopes of their first title as an independent nation with 20 minutes remaining in the match but Andreas Pereira equalised three minutes later.