England have surged into the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup final following a comprehensive 3-1 win over one of the pre-tournament favourites Brazil at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday. Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster was the star of the evening for the Young Lions with a sensational hat-trick (10', 39', 77') while right-back Wesley (21') scored Brazil's lone goal.
Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu made just the one change in the starting XI from the quarterfinal clash against Germany. Weverson, who scored in that game, was brought back to replace Luan Candido at the left-back position while England coach Steve Cooper fielded an unchanged XI from their win over USA in the quarterfinals.
Brazil, true to their style, went on the attack from the very beginning and kept the English defenders on their toes. But England drew first blood in the 10th minute, somewhat against the run of play. Rhian Brewster was found in space behind the defenders in the box by a teasing cross from Hudson-Odoi and his initial shot was blocked by the Brazilian goalkeeper. However, he reacted well to turn the rebound in.
The Selecao could have restored parity within four minutes of the goal, had the players been a little more clinical. Paulinho and Lincoln both missed chances to score as England heaved a sigh of relief.
But the equalising goal did come from Brazil in the 21st minute through Wesley. Following a neat give-and-go with Wesley, Paulinho's powerful shot at goal was blocked by English custodian Curtis Anderson. But he failed to gather the ball properly and Wesley, following up, knocked it in.
Brazil, rejuvenated after the equalising goal, ramped up the pressure on the English defenders. Brenner got the best chance of the half in the 30th minute when he found himself one-on-one with Anderson after a long ball from Vitao. However, the chance went begging with his shot going wide of the far post.
And Brewster made Brazil pay in the 39th minute after latching on to Sessegnon's cut back from the byline and smashing it in off the post.
The Boys in Yellow might have dominated possession and played a flashy game, but the Young Lions were much more clinical in the attacking third and deservedly led at half-time.
Needing to overturn the scoreline, Brazil started the second half with positive intent but the English defenders stood their ground firmly. At the hour mark, Amadeu introduced forward Yuri Alberto in place of Brenner as he searched for inspiration in attack.
Paulinho, who scored the winner against Germany, did create quite a few chances down the left flank and also came close to scoring but England captain Joel Latibeaudiere marshalled the defence well to thwart them.
Brazil's hopes were then dashed well and truly by Brewster in the 77th minute by bagging his seventh goal of the tournament. The forward completed his hat-trick after timing his run to perfection to meet Emile Smith Rowe’s low cross and turn it in past a hapless Brazilian defence.
England, on a high following that goal, organised themselves well and took control for the remainder of the game and ensure Brazil were kept at bay.
The Young Lions will meet the winner of the second semi-final between Mali and Spain at Kolkata in the final.