Kolkata: Brazil profited from Malis horrible defensive lapses to finish with a 2-0 win and take the third place in the FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Saturday.
After a goalless first half, Alan scored in the 55th minute, before substitute Yuri Alberto widened the margin two minutes from the end of regulation time of the third-fourth play-off watched by more than 56,000 spectators at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan.
This is the second time the Selecao boys have finished third after the inaugural edition in 1985 in China.
Alan broke the deadlock by capitalising on an incredible howler by Mali goalkeeper Youssouf Koita. The midfielder snatched the ball from Mammadou Samake and set off on a solo run, before unleashing a rasping grounder from the top of the box.
Koita was in line to block the shot, but failed to hold on to the ball, which went in between his legs, to the utter disbelief of the Mali reserve bench. Koita himself seemed stunned, and wept inconsolably after the game was over.
Alberto, who replaced Lincoln in the in the 74th minute, then made the scoreline 2-0 by latching on to a pass from Brenner inside the box and then let go a right footer virtually unchallenged. A Mali defender standing close by failed to read the situation and Koita was helpless.
Mali, however, had seemed much more thrustful in the first half, carrying out a number of fast raids into the opponent citadel. In contrast, three-time champions Brazil looked lacklustre and lacking in motivation, despite having more possession.
The likes of Alan and Marcos Antonio tried to cut through the Mali defence, but could not make much headway.
The only clear chance that Brazil got in the first half was in the 19th minute when Lincoln dribbled past a few defenders to chip the ball for the hardworking Paulinho inside the box. Paulinho set up Marcos Antonio who shot wide.
At the other end, Boubacar Haidara took a firm shot, which was punched out of harm's way by Brazil custodian Gabriel Brazao. The Brazil shotstopper had a very good game, saving his team's downfall on a number of occasion. Brazao played consistently well throughout the tournament, and is one of the strong contenders of the golden gloves award.
Mali got some more scoring opportunities, but somehow failed to finish.
Salam Jiddou was once off-target, while on another Brazao tipped over his right footer for a corner. Jiddou, always active, later set up Mohamed Camara, but the latter missed the mark.
The second session saw Brazil taking more initiatives, and close to the hour mark, Paulinho set up Brenenr, who muffed up the chance. The action then shifted to the other end, as Hadji Drame and Mohammad Camara's efforts were saved by Brazao.
Midway into the second half, Brazao looked dehydrated and had to receive treatment on the ground. In the very next minute, Salam Jiddou's right-footer missed the target after Hadji Drame had done the spadework.
A little later, Fode Konate crossed for Lassana N'Diaye, but Brazao saved the situation.
Mali came close to scoring late in the second session, but Mahamane Toure's header off Konate's cross was not on target.
(Sirshendu Panth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)