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3rd Place Play-off: Dominant Korea Republic seal World Cup spot

Chonburi: Korea Republic beat Australia 9-1 on Saturday to finish third at the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 and, in the process, seal their place at next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Despite having their title hopes dashed in the semi-finals, a commanding performance throughout saw Hur Jung-jae’s charges finish their Continental campaign in some style at the Chonburi Stadium.

Korea Republic’s success ensures they will join tournament finalists DPR Korea and Japan as Asia’s third representative at the 2020 global extravaganza in Nigeria.

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There was little to choose between the two sides in the game’s opening skirmishes, with the first genuine opportunity falling to Australia midfielder Kyra Cooney-Cross whose drilled 10th minute shot following a neatly worked corner was smartly saved by goalkeeper Kim Su-jeong.

Korea Republic were, though, to break the deadlock moments later, Noh Jin-Young rising highest at the far post to head home Jo Min-ah’s pinpoint free-kick.

With Korea Republic in the ascendancy, Choo Hyo-Joo seized on a defensive error from Chelsea Blissett to calmly roll the ball past Annalee Grove and double her side’s advantage on 24 minutes.

Grove then produced a fine stop to deny Choo a second, only for Kang Jo-woo to add a third for Korea Republic, the livewire striker reacting quickest to fire home after Choo’s firmly struck attempt had rebounded off a post.

Worse still was to come for Australia as the first half drew to a close, this time Hyun Seul-gi rifling an effort into the far corner to bag Korea Republic’s fourth on what was proving to be a distinctly productive outing for the East Asians.

By way of contrast to what had gone before, and with Australia steadfastly refusing to buckle further, chances were at a premium following the break, although Kang came within inches of netting a fifth courtesy of a venomous strike which fizzed past Grove’s right-hand upright on 66 minutes.

Kang duly repeated her near miss with 19 minutes remaining, before the rampaging striker registered her fifth goal of Thailand 2019 with a ferocious finish which flew past Grove.

A mistake from custodian Kim Su-jeong allowed Mary Fowler to net a late consolation for Australia, but it little mattered as a Kang scored an 84th minute penalty to record the competition’s first hat-trick.

With full-time approaching, further goals from Choo, the seemingly omnipresent Kang and Cho Mu-jin rounded off a dominant display by a World Cup-bound Korea Republic.