Mexico advanced to their first-ever FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup semi-final, defeating Ghana 4-2 on penalties as the match finished 2-2 at the end of the 90 minutes.
Mexico were able to find more of a passing rhythm in the first half and their defence, led by Nicole Soto and Tanna Carreto, limited current tournament top scorer Mukarama Abdulai to one half-chance. Neither side was able to create a clear goalscoring opportunity in the first half.
That all changed almost immediately once referee Maria Carvajal blew the second half whistle as Ghana winger Mavis Owusu created space on the right wing before sending in a cross for Abdulai, who guided in a shot with her head to the far corner from about ten yards out, just out of the grasp of a leaping Jaidy Gutierrez, for her tournament-leading seventh goal.
Abdulai’s header represented a milestone for her country. She became Ghana’s all-time top scorer (7) at the U-17 Women’s World Cup, surpassing Jane Ayieyam (6).
Mexico equalised 15 minutes later after Elizabeth Oppong was adjudged to have tripped Mexico substitute Nayeli Diaz in the penalty area. El Tri captain Nicole Perez converted the resulting spot-kick to bring her side level.
Ghana then retook the lead when substitute Suzzy Teye received a long pass from Abdulai on the right wing and beat her defender before finishing at the near post past Gutierrez.
It was then a case of déjà vu as Perez equalised with another spot-kick; this time in more spectacular fashion. From about 30 yards out, Perez drove a free-kick over the Ghana wall and beyond the reach of Ghana keeper Grace Buoadu.
There was to be no winning goal during the 90 minutes and the third consecutive quarter-final at Uruguay 2018 went to penalties.
Mexico’s Gutierrez saved spot-kicks from Justice Tweneboaa and Elizabeth Oppong to lead El Tri to the historic victory.
Player of the match: Nicole Perez (MEX)