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Group B: China PR 1-2 Korea Republic

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Chonburi: Two goals from captain Kang Ji-woo proved the difference on Monday as Korea Republic beat China PR 2-1 at the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019.

Kang struck either side of the break to ensure a winning start for Hur Jung-jae’s charges as they overcame a resilient Chinese outfit in what turned out to be an enthralling all-East Asian affair.

The result leaves the Koreans occupying second spot in the Group B standings after table-topping Japan overcame Myanmar 5-0 earlier in the day.

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Having booked their place at Thailand 2019 via the qualifiers, Korea Republic wasted little time in laying down a marker by going ahead within the first minute, captain Kang collecting Cho Mi-jin’s astute pass before bursting into the area and rolling the ball past Zhu Mengdi in the Chinese goal.

Cho then fired wide from close range after Zhu had done well to repel a fierce Choo Hyo-joo drive, only for China to respond through an excellent Yang Qian effort from a distance which thudded against the bar on 15 minutes.

With the frantic action showing no sign of abating, Cho Mi-jin rattled China’s right-hand upright and Zhang Linyan drew a smart save from Korea Republic goalkeeper Kim Su-jeong.

Having recovered well from their decidedly early setback, China grabbed an equaliser in the 34th minute when Han Xuan’s looping shot from fully 20 yards sailed into the top corner.

Moments later, one nearly became two for China as Yang’s flicked header from a pinpoint Dou Jiaxing free-kick forced Kim Su-jeong into another fine save.

As an exhilarating first half drew to a close, the impressive Kim Su-jeong was on hand once again to expertly gather Yao Mengjia’s strike from distance and keep her side level at the break.

Korea Republic began the second period as they had the first, with Choi Dak-yeong firing narrowly over the bar and Kang planting a firm header against the bar inside five minutes of the restart.

After a period of defensive dominance and relative calm, Korea Republic restored their advantage on 72 minutes, Kang firing home to bag her second of the night.

Try as they may, China failed to find a way back into the game for a second time as Korea Republic held firm to claim all three points.

Korea Republic will now look to make it two wins from two when they face Japan on Thursday, the same day as China meet Myanmar.

Park Tae-ha: China PR head coach

“We conceded a very early goal and I think my players lost some of their focus after that. Today we actually made more mistakes than we had been making in training. Those mistakes present a major problem when you are facing a strong team such as Korea Republic. Nevertheless, my players tried their very best and we must now adjust and prepare ourselves for our next two games.”

Hur Jung-jae: Korea Republic head coach

“I am of course satisfied because we won. We must, however, now prepare for our next match and prepare to win that one as well. At the beginning of the first half we tried to find space behind China’s defenders, although we encountered some difficulties after we had opened the scoring. In the second half we tried to nullify their offensive play and I am delighted that we succeeded.”

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