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Football: Korea DPR down USA to reach U-20 World Cup semis

Korea DPR players and coaching staff run to celebrate with Rim Se-ok following the winning penalty, after goalkeeper Kim Chol-ok earlier saved three USA efforts. Photo: AFP.

Korea DPR players and coaching staff run to celebrate with Rim Se-ok following the winning penalty, after goalkeeper Kim Chol-ok earlier saved three USA efforts. Photo: AFP.

August 17, 2014: Korea DPR reached the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada by beating holders USA 3-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their quarter-final at Toronto’s National Soccer Stadium on Saturday.

 

Goalkeeper Kim Chol-ok was named player of the match after saving the Americans’ first three penalties and helping the 2006 champions earn a victory that they probably just about merited on the balance of play.

 

The US had beaten the North Koreans in both the teams’ previous meetings at this tournament and the early stages offered little to suggest that the Asians would make it third time lucky, as Michelle French’s side took a sixth-minute lead.

 

The impressive Mallory Pugh provided the creativity, dribbling down the right flank before delivering an inviting low cross. Mackenzy Doniak was the player to benefit, with the USA striker following up to fire home from four yards after her initial effort had been blocked.

 

However, USA spent most of the remainder of the first half hanging on to that advantage. Korea DPR had fired a warning shot across American bows in the 18th minute when set-piece specialist Jon So-yon curled a left-footed free-kick against the crossbar, while Jon Ryon-hwa tested the reflexes of Katelyn Rowland after cutting in from the right.

 

The North Koreans’ best chance fell to star player Ri Un-sim, back in the side after being rested against Canada. A goal kick from Kim Chol-ok missed everyone in midfield and ran through for the gifted No. 10, but after Ri spotted Rowland off her line, her attempted chip landed on top of the net.

 

The US could only hold out so long, though, and it was no more than Korea DPR deserved when an equaliser arrived eight minutes after the break. It came from the penalty spot after Ri Un-sim’s goalbound shot was blocked by the arm of Stephanie Amack. While Jon So-yon’s kick was far from convincing, it slipped beyond the gloves of Katelyn Rowland and into the bottom-right corner.

 

Korea DPR continued to threaten and on 66 minutes Ri headed wide from six yards. Soon after, a glaring opportunity also went begging at the other end, with the unmarked Pugh volleying over from Doniak’s inch-perfect cross. Lindsey Horan also went close with a looping 25-yard volley but, in the end, it needed extra time and penalties to settle the outcome.

 

Chances were few and far between in the additional 30 minutes, with Summer Green’s long-range shot – easily gathered by Kim – arguably the best before the whistle signalled a penalty shootout.

 

USA had lost all three of their previous U-20 Women’s World Cup penalty shootouts and, once again, they came up short, with Kim saving from Savannah Jordan, Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle before Rim Se-ok fired home the winning kick for Korea DPR.

 

Source: FIFA (www.fifa.com); Editing by SportAsia

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