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Korea Republic share spoils with world champion Americans

Chicago: Korea Republic denied world champions United States a record-equaling 18th consecutive win, battling their way to an impressive 1-1 draw in an international friendly at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Chelsea Ji So-yun stunned the 33,000-strong crowd with the opening goal just after the half-hour mark, before Carli Lloyd equalised three minutes later but the Americans couldn’t find a winning goal in head coach Jill Ellis’ final game in charge.

Korea Republic’s draw ends a five-game losing streak and makes them the first side to share the spoils with the Americans since England claimed a 2-2 draw in March.

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With dual FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning boss Ellis leading the Americans for the last time, Korea Republic emerged from Thursday’s 2-0 defeat undaunted and determined to spoil the party against the world’s top side.

While the Americans were saying goodbye to a boss with a long and storied career, Korea Republic were under the tutelage of caretaker Hwang In-sun, but the visitors could easily have taken the lead when a terrific pass from Ji put Kang Chae-rim through on goal in the 21st-minute, although a shot never eventuated after the young forward elected to pass rather than shoot.

A Julie Ertz effort hit the upright for the hosts, but Korea Republic did snatch the advantage when the customarily impressive Ji steered home a well-placed low drive from the edge of the 18-yard box in the 34th minute.

The Americans were level just three minutes later, as Korea Republic fell victim to a Megan Rapinoe set-piece delivery for the third time in two matches when fellow veteran Carli Lloyd sent a terrific header across Korean goalkeeper Kang Ga-ae and into the net.

The sides remained level at half-time, and Korea Republic succeeded in curtailing American attacks well into the second half as the world champions sought a second goal.

Hwang made numerous substitutions, including the removal of Ji just after the hour mark, and American replacement Jessica McDonald increased the tension further when she hit the crossbar with another header from a corner kick with seven minutes remaining.

Korea Republic’s task was made even more difficult when forward Son Hwa-yeon was sent off for a second bookable offence, and Lloyd looked to have secured a winning farewell for Ellis in stoppage time, only for the goal to be ruled out by the assistant referee’s flag.

The drama continued further when Kang conjured an excellent last gasp save to deny Mallory Pugh, as Hwang and Korea Republic held on for an excellent result against the world champions.

Photos: AFP

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