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FIFA U17 World Cup: Young Lions top Group C following comeback triumph over Iran

England 2 – 1 Iran

Joel Ndala awarded with man of the match [Credit: Alex Caparros]

Jakarta, Indonesia — A late Joel Ndala winner pushed England beyond Iran and to the top of Group C to continue its unbeaten start to the FIFA U17 World Cup.

The Young Lions made it six points out of six after coming from behind thanks to substitute Reiss-Alexander Russell-Denny, and a late triumph from danger man Ndala.

England began their campaign with an emphatic 10-0 win over New Caledonia while Iran also enjoyed a perfect start with a statement 3-2 win against Brazil.

First Half

After eight minutes Esmaeli Gholizadeh attempted to head the ball over the back-pedaling Tommy Setford, who managed to prevent the ball from dropping into his net.

England should’ve opened the scoring ten minutes later as Ethan Nwaneri’s close-range effort was saved following Matty Warhurst’s failed attempt to connect with a cross.

In the 22nd minute, Nwaneri played a dangerous ball right across the face of goal, but Warhurst and Ndala couldn’t make contact.

Warhurst managed a shot on target just before the half-hour mark, nodding a free header down and into the arms of Shakouri.

Minutes later, midfielder Abolfazi Zamani bundled the ball in from close range following a corner to give Iran a vital first-half lead.

Abolfazl Zamani of IR Iran celebrates with teammates after scoring the team’s first goal [Credit: Alex Caparros]

In first-half stoppage time, Gholizadeh unleashed a left-footed shot from 20 yards but the strike just cleared the bar and Iran went into the break a goal to the good.

Second Half

The Young Lions came out for the second half in search of an equaliser, but their opponents sat in a defensive shape in an attempt to keep them out.

In the 63rd minute, England finally broke through as Russell-Denny’s left-footed shot found the bottom corner from 18 yards.

Ten minutes later Ndala forced Shakouri into a tricky save as the ball bobbled up off the slippery surface, but the goalkeeper parried the effort away.

The Manchester City winger had an excellent chance again a minute later after shifting onto his right foot from a wide position, but his effort slid beyond the far post, as passing options queued up in the box.

Iran continued to sit deep in their own half and seemed to be happy with the prospect of a point against a very talented England side.

In the 90th minute, the Young Lions finally took the lead as Ndala curled his effort into the top corner from a wide angle to push England to the top of Group C with six points.

England will take on Brazil in their final group stage matchup while Iran will face struggling New Caledonia to determine their fate in the competition.

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