DPR Korea through to quarter-finals
Colonia del Sacramento: DPR Korea ensured their FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup title defence will continue into the knockout stage, advancing with a crucial 2-1 win that eliminated Cameroon on Wednesday.
The East Asians fell behind almost immediately, but goals from Ko Kyong-hui and Ri Su-jong either side of half time meant they were able to recover both from Alice Kameni's early strike and last Wednesday's shock 4-1 Matchday One defeat to Germany.
DPR Korea will now continue their quest to be the competition's first three-time winners when they face unbeaten Group C winners Spain in Saturday's opening quarter-final.
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All four teams in Group C began the afternoon on three points, with DPR Korea fully aware a draw or better would likely seal a fifth progression to the knockout stage in six editions of the tournament, but disaster struck early for the holders.
Cameroon found the crucial opening goal through Kameni, who arrived to prod home the loose ball after Yu Son-gum had spilled Marie Ngah Manga's accurate but tame initial effort in just the sixth minute.
DPR Korea produced regular scoring chances, with both Choe Kum-ok and Kim Yun-ok on the end of two unsuccessful shots at goal, and Song Sung-gwon's side had a golden opportunity to equalise when they were awarded a penalty, but Ri Su-gyong's spot-kick slammed into the left upright and rolled harmlessly clear in the 41st minute.
They finally got their reward on the stroke of half-time, when Ko Kyong-hui put an end to a desperate goalmouth scramble by poking the ball in from inches out to make it 1-1 at the break.
Ko's goal put the Koreans in pole position to advance to the last eight, and they came close to further improving those prospects early in the second half, with Ri Su-jong striking the left upright from 20 yards shortly before Kim Kyong-yong was denied by an Olga Ngo Esse save when she was clear through on goal.
With Germany cruising to a 4-0 win over the United States in the other match, it became clear that the final moments in Colonia would decide the complexion of the group, and with 15 minutes remaining Cameroon still required just one goal to move into second place.
But Ri Su-jong ensured DPR Korea would be quarter-finalists when she capped an excellent performance by controlling a lobbed pass from Kim Ryu-song and superbly finding the bottom corner of the net from 20 yards to make it 2-1 in the 76th minute.
The 2017 AFC U-16 Women's Champions will now face an in-form Spain side, who earlier put five goals past Canada in their final group stage outing, with an all-Asian semi-final against Japan potentially in the offing should they be successful.
Photos: Fifa via Getty Images