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U-20 World Cup: Mali clinch third, Traoré named player of the tournament
Mali came back from a 1-0 deficit to beat fellow CAF representatives Senegal in a thrilling, rain-soaked encounter, as two-goal hero Traoré took home the player of the tournament award.
The first half was an even affair, with Mali starting well and coming close to a 10th-minute opener, but Aboubacar Doumbia could not get his effort on target.
Senegal grew into the game after that, and despite threatening the Malians’ goal on more than one occasion, endured a catastrophic end to the first interval; Moussa Ba received his marching orders after earning his second yellow card for body-checking.
Nevertheless, the Teranga Lions – who were harshly punished 5-0 in the semi-final by losing finalists Brazil – continued to push for an opener, and it finally came in the 63rd minute. Ibrahima Wadji controlled the ball under pressure on the edge of the area, and his shot crept into the bottom corner.
Mali reacted brilliantly, however, and the equalizer was a contender for goal of the tournament; Adama Traoré curled an exquisite free-kick over the wall and into the top corner, beyond the despairing Sy’s outstretched arms.
Traoré’s second goal was sandwiched between two missed penalties – one from each team – as the second half drew to a close, before the 19-year-old assisted Samassekou for the third and final goal of a pulsating encounter.
Here are some the highlights of the third-place playoff:
Adama Traoré wins Golden Ball award
The Lille midfielder was awarded the adidas Golden Ball award for the best player of the tournament, after scoring four goals and providing three assists while leading his team to third place.
Traoré has had a breakthrough tournament, and the Ligue 1 side are likely to receive offers for the player this summer.