Korea DPR have put one foot in the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with a Ri Un-Sim-inspired 3-0 win over Ghana in Toronto. The North Korean No10 scored twice to cap a fine performance that could yet see her team through to the last eight by the end of the night if Canada fail to beat Finland.
Opening-day victories had left both teams knowing that another win would all but secure their place in the knockout phase and, from the offset, Korea DPR always looked more likely to secure it. Indeed, it took them just six minutes to take the lead, and the goal was all down the improvisation of Ri.
Right-back Song Kyong-Hui had done well with a positive overlapping run and cross, but the ball arrived at an awkward height for the team’s talisman. Undeterred, Ri simply adjusted her body, stooping low on the six-yard line to direct a a delicate header in off the far post.
An unusual early substitution followed, with the referee picking up a knee injury and making way for her fourth official, but the pattern of the game remained unaltered. Ghana could have found themselves further behind, in fact, had it not been for keeper Victoria Agyei saving well with her legs on two occasions, first from Ri Hyang-Sim and then from Song.
Ri remained the North Koreans’ most likely source of a goal though, and with 66 minutes played she came within millimetres of doubling hers and her team’s tally. Rising to meet another cross from the right, she again sent a header towards goal only to see the ball rebound off he underside of the crossbar and be scrambled to safety.
The Korea DPR star would not be denied, though, and with 12 minutes remaining she got her second goal, glancing into the empty net after nipping in ahead of Agyei to meet an outswinging free-kick from Jon So-Yon. And there was still time for the North Koreans to add a little sparkle to the scoreline.
The opportunity to do so arrived in stoppage time when Agyei missed the ball with a wild attempted clearance and caught Ri Kyong-Hang on the neck. A penalty was the inevitable the consequence, and though Agyei guessed right, Jo Son-Yon’s spot kick was accurate and powerful enough to leave her with no chance of keeping it out.
Bashir Hayford, Ghana coach
It was a tough game and we lost to the better side. We were dominated the whole match. When you face a good team, you just have to face up to it. Winning a game, it’s capitalising on opponent’s mistakes, and we made more mistakes than them. Now we have to accept the result, quickly put it aside and raise our morale.
Hwang Yong Bong, Korea DPR coach
Our goal was to have six points before the last group match, so we can have our destiny in our hands. I’m happy with the victory but we have to improve a lot of things. It was not a game as easy as the score says. We didn’t produce a bad performance, but we could have a done better with all the opportunities we had.
Live Your Goals player of the match: Ri Un-Sim