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Spain tops Mexico in 2018 FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup Final

A 2-1 win over El Tri gave Spain its first women’s U-17 World Cup title.

England v Spain - UEFA Nations League A Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

December 1 was a big day for CONCACAF soccer. Mexico contested the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Final against Spain - a match also significant for featuring the first Caribbean referees to participate in a World Cup final at any level.

And Canada played New Zealand in the tournament’s third-place play-off.

Both games followed a similar pattern. In the third-place playoff, Canada fell behind early to two goals from Grace Wisnewski. Lara Kazandjian’s second-half strike gave Canada hope, but the equalizer never came. New Zealand clinched its highest-ever finish at a Women’s U-17 World Cup with the 2-1 win.

In the final, Claudia Pina put Spain up by two goals by the 26th minute. Denise Castro bundled in a scrappy goal for Mexico in the 29th minute to prevent the UEFA women’s U-17 champions from running away with the game, but El Tri couldn’t find a second.

After a string of strong performances at earlier editions of this tournament - two third-place finishes and second place at the 2010 U-17 World Cup - Spain has its first U-17 Women’s World Cup title.

For El Tri, this was its first trip to a women’s U-17 World Cup final - its first trip beyond the quarterfinals, in fact. All told, all four semifinalists clinched their best-ever finishes at this tournament.

Though neither side could win on the last day of the competition, Mexico and Canada collectively delivered an encouraging tournament for CONCACAF soccer at this level. El Tri’s first women’s U-17 World Cup final was just the second occasion a CONCACAF team has made the final at this tournament (the USA lost to North Korea in the 2008 final). Canada’s run to the semifinals meant CONCACAF had two teams in the final four of the competition for the first time. With the USA still routinely winning CONCACAF women’s U-17 championships, the strong showing by Mexico and Canada on the world stage speaks well to the depth of competition in the region.