Mali emulated fellow Africans Nigeria by making easy work of Korea DPR with a 3-0 victory at the Estadio Fiscal in Talca as the African champions eased into the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015.
Amadou Haidara’s early blast and a brace from Sidiki Maiga sealed the West Africans’ passage.
Haidara opened the scoring in style for Mali with less than ten minutes on the clock. The No18 controlled an errant Korea DPR throw in off his chest with his first touch, his second created space and his third touch unleashed a venomous strike from 25 yards that flew by Ri Chol Song before he realised Haidara was lining up to shoot.
Ten minutes before the break, Maiga put Mali 2-0 ahead. Boubacar Traore served in a free-kick towards the penalty spot, and the No7 snuck behind the Korea DPR defence to fire home on his first touch past Ri.
Korea DPR nearly pulled one back on two occasions towards the end of the first half. Captain Han Kwang Song’s flashing header from a free-kick looked bound for the far post, but it was well saved by Samuel Diarra. Moments later, Han fired an acrobatic volley over the bar from a corner kick.
Mali put the game away shortly after the break with Haidara perfectly weighted through ball finding Maiaga behind the Korean backline to put away a first-time finish into the side netting for his second goal of the game.
Fifa.com reports that Diarra was required to make a few more acrobatic saves as Korea DPR looked for a way back into the match, but Baye Ba’s squad was too strong for the Asian U-16 champions and the African champions now await a quarter-final showdown in Chillan against Croatia.