Mali under-20 3-3 Mexico under-20: Six-goal thriller sees spoils shared

The tournament sprung into life with an end-to-end thriller.

Mali under-20 3-3 Mexico under-20: Six-goal thriller sees spoils shared
Image credit: Toulon Tournament
Mali U20
3 3
Mexico U20
Mali U20: (4-2-3-1) Dibatere; S. Coulibaly, Touré, Diaby, Diakité; Dembélé (Doumbia 53'), L. Coulibaly (Diabate 61'); Baradji (Guilavogui 68'), Tianda (Sambague 73'), Diarra; Niané.
Mexico U20: (4-2-3-1) Lajud; Guzman, Silva Diaz (c), Gutierrez, Rivas; Gonzalez, Alvarez; Diaz, Garcia, Cota; Fierro (Govea 41').
SCORE: 1-0, Tianda 5'. 2-0, Diarra 17'. 2-1, Cota 29'. 2-2, Fierro 40'. 2-3, Gonzalez 54'. 3-3, Niane 62'.
REFEREE: Joao Silva (POR). Booked: Gutierrez (61').

Both sides still remain winless in the Toulon Tournament, but it wasn't for a lack of effort on Sunday afternoon.

Mali raced into a two-nil lead through Ibrahima Tianda and Souleymane Diarra's stunning solo goals.

Mexico did manage to level, however, with Rosario Cota and Carlos Fierro restoring parity.

Arturo Gonzalez then put the Mexicans ahead for the first time but Adame Niane earned a 3-3 draw for his side.

Early opener for Mali

Mali started off the better side and were suitably rewarded after a mere five minutes. A poor pass in midfield was picked off by Tianda and he ran and ran at the Mexico defence. They continued to back off before he eventually shifted into the box and curled a superb shot past the outstretched Manuel Lajud.

The goalkeeper was being peppered early on by an exciting Malian side, who were showing more of the form that took their under-20s to the latter stages of their respective World Cup last summer. Tianda again came forward with promise but his effort, which was headed for the top corner, was well saved by Lajud. 

Mexico did muster an immediate response and should have been level. Ousmane Diabetere was equal to a tame header before he watched Fierro's snap-shot deflect just wide of the post. Gonzalez's strike from the resulting corner nipped narrowly wide of the upright, in what seemed to be the wake-up call Mali needed.

Mexico fight back to level

That proved to be mere momentary respite for the Mexicans, who soon found themselves further behind. Another error in the middle of midfield let Diarra race down the rfith wing. He lifted the ball over two poor tackles and then chipped the oncoming Lajud was consummate ease. A superb solo goal, and Mexico were stunned again.

Alejandro Diaz reminded Mali that they wouldn't have things all their own way moments later, but Dibatere was equal to the task. That paved the way for an equaliser and Cota was the man to grab the game's all important third goal. A cross into the area wasn't dealt with by the defence, and he hammered the rebound into the top corner.

Just as it looked like the half was destined to end with Mali ahead, but Mexico managed to find a late equaliser. Diaz was the creator with a fine cross from the right, and Fierro was on hand to guide the ball expertly into the far corner. A finish of real class ended the half just as it had begun.

Mexico complete the turnaround

The second half began nothing like the first, with both sides standing off more than in the 40 minutes; that may have been down to Omar Govea replacing the lively Fierro. However, Mexico eventually did come good and Ulises Rivas rattled the crossbar with a towering header.

The pressure did tell, and Mali's hopes of a win or even a point had seemingly faded when a loose ball broke kindly for Gonzalez in the area. The midfielder made no mistake from 10 yards out, slamming his shot past the helpless Dibatere to give Mexico the lead for the first time.

Mali finish strong to save a point

That joy was to be short-lived and Mali quickly regrouped. Issa Baradji and Tianda both had strong shots well saved by Lajud, but the goalkeeper was to blame for the third goal. Niane lined up a free-kick from just outside the area and whipped it over the wall to the goalkeeper's side; but he was nowhere to be seen having stepped so early.

Both teams then traded late chances in a bid to grab a winning goal. Cota hit the post from close range, when it seemed easier to miss than score. Mohamed Guilavogui went agonisingly close at the other end, with his clever flick slipping just past the post.