Semi-final: DPR Korea cruise past Korea Republic
Chonburi: DPR Korea beat Korea Republic 3-1 on Wednesday to claim their place in the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 final and, in the process, guarantee themselves a spot at next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Nigeria.
Kim Kyong-yong’s brace laid the foundations for the impressive victory, one which sees the 2007 champions DPR Korea advance to their fifth successive title showdown at this level.
Korea Republic, meanwhile, remain in the running for a World Cup ticket as they will now face the losers of the other semi-final tie between Japan and Australia to battle it out for Asia’s third berth at the global extravaganza.
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DPR Korea approached the match having scored 11 goals during their group stage campaign, and their attacking prowess was once again to the fore as they took the lead within the first three minutes, Kim Kyong-yong rising highest to head home Yun Ji-hwa’s corner.
Korea Republic responded through a Kim Soo-jin effort which flew narrowly over the bar, but they were to fall further behind in the ninth minute when Kim Kyong-yong extended her side’s lead – and bagged her fourth goal of the tournament – by converting Yun Ji-hwa’s cross from close range.
Moments later, and with Korea Republic goalkeeper Kim Su-jeong well beaten, livewire forward Kim Yun-ok smashed a fierce drive against the bar as DPR Korea remained in the ascendancy.
By way of contrast to what had gone before, chances became few and few between as the first half progressed, although Ri Su-jong came within inches of adding a third courtesy of a long-range strike which fizzed narrowly wide of the post on 39 minutes.
With the first period drawing to a close, Korea Republic captain Kang Ji-woo was afforded a rare sight at goal, but her shot under pressure was easily gathered by Yu Son-gum.
Needing a response to keep alive their title hopes, Korea Republic were quick out of the blocks after the break, however it was to be DPR Korea who were to score again, this time substitute Pak Il-gyong slaloming into the area and drilling an angled drive past Kim Su-jeong.
Korea Republic were, though, to reduce the deficit shortly before the hour mark, Kang picking herself up to convert a penalty after being upended in the area by defender Ri Kum-hyang.
Clearly buoyed, Korea Republic pressed forward, with Choo Hyo-joo forcing Yu into a fine save and then seeing Son Ok-ju superbly block her goalbound attempt as the clock ticked down.
DPR Korea replied in kind though, and they came close to netting a fourth in the 84th minute only for Kim Su-jeong to spectacularly palm away Kim Yun-ok’s piledriver.
Despite a spirited late rally from their opponents, and with Ri Su-gyong excelling in midfield, DPR Korea held firm to go through to Saturday’s final where either Japan or Australia await.
Son Sung-gwon: DPR Korea head coach
“Both teams played very well today and the two sets of players displayed a high level of technique and tactics. I thought our players performed very well throughout the match and I believe that their tremendous sense of spirit and collectivism was one of the main factors behind the win. Having made the final, the players will now do their absolute best to win the title.”
Hur Jung-jae: Korea Republic head coach
“I think our players did their very best, As we expected DPR Korea were just too strong. However, for the next match we will ensure the players recover well and then get the win that we need. Before the game, I said to my players that we need to concentrate during the opening moments of the game. We tried to navigate that period without conceding, but clearly we did not do very well.”
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