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USA too strong for Korea Republic

Charlotte: Korea Republic’s tour of the United States began with a defeat against the world champions, who extended their winning streak to 18 matches with a 2-0 victory in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday.

Allie Long and Mallory Pugh scored either side of half-time for the Americans, who required two Megan Rapinoe set-pieces to unlock a Korean outfit appearing in their first international match since their elimination from June’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

With Kim Hye-ri captaining the side, and key names such as Ji So-yun, Jang Sel-gi and Cho So-hyun all present, the Koreans arrived in Charlotte eager to improve on the 6-0 loss they suffered in their last meeting with the United States in 2017.

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They very nearly made it to half-time on level terms, but World Cup Golden Ball-winner Rapinoe showed her quality in the shadows of the interval, supplying a superb set-piece delivery for Long to prod home in the third minute of first half stoppage time.

Korea Republic fought on after the break to keep their illustrious opponents at bay, but another Rapinoe cross from a dead ball situation extended the lead in the 76th minute, with Pugh converting a simple headed chance from close range to confirm the American winning streak would continue.

With an eye to the future, interim Korea Republic head coach Hwang In-sun made the bulk of six second-half substitutions after Pugh’s goal giving the likes of Kim So-eun and Son Hwa-yeon game-time against the world’s number one side.

The two-match series will conclude in Sunday’s meeting between the sides at Chicago’s Soldier Field, before Korea Republic play host to three Asian opponents in the Final Round of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifiers in February next year.

Photos: AFP

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