Football: Australia and Brazil prevail in penalty shoot-outs

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIA AND Brazil will meet in Saturday's final of the World Under-17 Championship in New Zealand after securing penalty shootout victories in yesterday's semi-finals.

Australia reached their first world final at any level by beating the United States 7-6 on spot-kicks after they had squandered a 2-0 lead in normal time.

The Australia coach, Les Scheinflug, praised his team afterwards. "I'm ecstatic for the kids who did a marvellous job today," he said. "They kept their cool right through the penalties, which is something we've been practising at training because there was always the chance it would come to this."

With the shootout tied at 4-4 after five spot-kicks each, it went into sudden death and was finally settled when the American captain Kenny Cutler blasted his kick over the bar. It was the end of a 24-match winning streak for the Americans, who had not lost since August last year. "I'm incredibly proud of this team, as our entire country should be," the American coach, John Ellinger, said. "It's a great group of guys who are hurting a lot right now."

Australia had been given the perfect start to the match, taking the lead in the second minute when Aaron Goulding scored in a goalmouth scramble after an incisive cross from the left.

They added a second goal in the 35th minute through Scott McDonald, but the United States pulled a goal back a minute later through Landon Donovan and levelled just after half-time when the ball bounced off Oguchi Onyewu's shoulder and into the net as he rose above two defenders at a Donovan corner from the left.

America's Seth Trembly was sent off for a late tackle in extra-time, but Australia were unable to break the deadlock and the game went to penalties.

In the other semi Brazil also went 2-0 ahead before being pegged back by Ghana. Leonardo, the namesake of Milan's Brazilian international, got the first after 25 minutes and Ghana's Stephen Tetteh deflected the ball in for an own goal two minutes later.

Ghana found a way back into the game after 66 minutes when Nathaniel Lamptey headed in a Benard Dong-Bortey corner at the near post.

Dong-Bortey was at the centre of the action again on 80 minutes when the Brazilian goalkeeper Rubinho parried his strong shot into the path of Ishmael Addo, who volleyed in an equaliser for his sixth goal of the tournament.

Dong-Bortey's luck ran out in the penalty shootout as he sent Ghana's second kick over the top and then Anthony Obodai fired the Africans' third off the bar.

The Brazilian captain Walker had the chance to seal the game but had his kick saved before Ricardo netted to secure a final berth.

Brazil beat Ghana 2-1 in the Under-17 final two years ago, avenging their defeat by Ghana in the 1995 final.