Group B - MD1: Korea Republic 0-2 China PR
Chonburi: China PR took a significant step towards the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 knockout stage, defeating Korea Republic 2-0 in their opening Group B clash at Chonburi Stadium on Monday.
Zou Mengyao opened the scoring with just under 30 minutes remaining, before a Shao Ziqin penalty kick sealed a winning start for Chan Yuen Ting’s side.
Korea Republic, the 2017 runners-up, remain in contention for the latter stages of the competition, but their defeat leaves little room for error in their remaining group stage matches against Vietnam and DPR Korea.
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It was the Koreans who mustered the first attempt on goal. As Hwang Ah-yun went close with a 20-yard strike in the third minute, and it looked as though it would be an end to end affair when it took the fingertips of Park Eo-jin to deny a rasping Wang Jingyi drive five minutes later.
But, while the match began with a flourish, that pattern didn’t continue into the rest of the first half, as defence bettered attack at both ends of the pitch, keeping clear cut opportunities for either side to a minimum.
Despite a relative paucity of goalmouth action, China PR came close to opening the scoring when another long-range effort, this time from Jiang Chenjing, hammered into the crossbar seven minutes before the break in the nearest anyone came to finding the net before the interval.
The first major chance of the second half - this time closer to goal - also fell to Jiang, but Park moved swiftly to close down the space and make a key save after the Chinese midfielder found herself one on one with the Korean goalkeeper in the 51st minute.
Jiang was involved again in China’s next big opportunity, starting a move when ended with Zou teeing up Shao for a close-range shot, only for the towering striker to send her final effort wide of the post.
China’s pressure finally told in the 66th minute, when Zou clipped the ball into the bottom corner to open the scoring after Jiang - who had looked likely to score herself - went to ground before getting a shot away in a passage of play which led to an injury for Korean full-back Kim Min-ji.
After taking over an hour to break down the Korean defence for the first goal, China took less than 10 minutes to double their advantage, as Shao made no mistake from the penalty spot in the 75th after being brought down by Byeon Hye-jin.
With their chances of an opening win slipping away, Korea Republic produced one of their best moves of the match to get Gwak Ro-yeong through on goal. Chinese goalkeeper Luo Yu, however, was up to the task as she produced an important save to retain the two-goal lead.
Substitute Wang Qianqian hit the upright as China chased a third, but it ultimately wasn’t required as Chan’s charges made a fine start to life in Chonburi.
NATIONAL TEAM - U16 | Moments of the game today. China return to action for the second match of Group B on Thursday (19) when face North Korea at the IPE Chonburi Stadium, in Chonburi. The game starts 16:00. #SteelRoses #AFCU16W— China Women's Football (@ChinaWNFT) September 16, 2019
📸- @theafcdotcom pic.twitter.com/1tzBuT80JJ
Chan Yuen Ting: China PR head coach
“We prepared for this game for a long time, and we knew that it would be a really difficult game and a very critical game to take us to the semi-finals. These three points were well deserved because we worked very hard. The players played at 200 per cent and they did what we planned in training. I’m proud of my team and now we need to focus on our next game. The most important thing is that we have got the three points and we have got a foundation in the group."
In Chang-soo: Korea Republic head coach
“China played very well physically. The change of tactics was effective in them creating clearer opportunities. We look forward to selecting the players who are in the best condition for the next matches and hopefully we can get better results in those matches.”
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