Ten man Belgium finished third at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 after a hard-fought 3-2 victory against Mexico in Vina del Mar. Dennis Van Vaerenbergh opened the scoring for the Belgians before a Ricardo Marin penalty levelled matters moments later with Dante Vanzeir’s wonderful chip cancelled out by Francisco Venegas’s late leveller. Vanzeir then kept his cool in stoppage time to seal third place.
There were two clear-cut opportunities in the opening exchanges of the game, first with Belgium and then Mexico failing to capitalise. Vanzeir burst clear of the Mexican defence, after a slip by Francisco Venegas, but he sliced his effort wide. Claudio Zamudio then found himself in space behind the Belgian defence, but Gaetan Coucke, making his first appearance of the finals, saved well with his feet.
Van Vaerenbergh and the ever-dangerous Pablo Lopez each went close, but neither side could break the deadlock in a tight opening period.
The European side were first to strike, with Vanzeir once more showing his pace and trickery down the Belgian right wing. The Genk player picked up the ball close to the halfway line and took on a number of Mexican defenders before forcing his way into the penalty area. He found Van Vaerenbergh in space inside the six yard box and the tall No9 made no mistake, slotting home for his first of the tournament.
Mexico were given an opportunity to level moments later. Kevin Lara cut inside from the Mexican right and hit a left-footed effort at goal which was blocked by Wout Faes’ hand. Substitute Marin stepped up and calmly sent Coucke the wrong way for his first goal of Chile 2015.
Captain Faes then found himself taking an early bath, after he picked up a second yellow following the booking received for the handball which led to the penalty. That did not hinder the Belgians, who almost immediately took the lead. Christophe Janssens broke out of defence and his pass inside found its way to Van Vaerenbergh. The forward spread the play to Vanzeir who settled himself with a good first touch before dinking a beautifully disguised chip over the onrushing Abraham Romero.
Venegas levelled matters late on after Marin poked his way following a scramble in the Belgian penalty area. But Vanzeir had the last word, sealing the win with another superb individual effort. The winger found himself one-on-one with Romero once more and kept his cool to slot home the dramatic winner and seal third place for the Red Devils. They will look back fondly on their time in Chile, the first time they have reached the knockout stages of the U-17 World Cup.