Favourites Germany may have just missed out, but it is still no surprise to see the final of the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup contested by USA and Korea DPR: winners of the last Women's Olympic Football Tournament and FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup competitions respectively. Proof if it were needed that the women's game is flourishing in both countries.
In order to reach the title decider in Auckland, the North Koreans held their nerve to edge out an England team buoyed by their epic quarter-final victory over tournament sensations Japan. The Americans, meanwhile, continue to improve with every game. Having gone one down to the Germans after just six minutes, they stormed back with two second-half goals to turn the result on its head.
The big match
Germany 1-2 United States
This eagerly awaited encounter between two superpowers of the women's game started brightly, with the US defence caught cold with the first corner of the match. From Dzsenifer Marozsan's pinpoint delivery, Alexandra Popp underlined her fine aerial ability by planting a header past Taylor Vancil to give her side an early advantage. Though Germany coach Ralf Peter had previously told FIFA.com that his team's repeated early strikes owed a lot to good fortune, goals in the opening six minutes of each of their last four games are testament to his players' maturity and powers of concentration.
USA refused to buckle, though, showing tremendous heart to throw everything at the goal expertly defended by goalkeeper Anna Sarholz. Having been saved by the woodwork twice in the first half, Sarholz was finally beaten just after the hour mark. Vicki DiMartino, a scorer in every game here at New Zealand 2008, levelled the match before Courtney Verloo grabbed the winner with just nine minutes of normal time remaining.
The other match
The reigning FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup champions, Korea DPR are still on course for a remarkable double. Their U-17 side booked a place in the final by overcoming an England team that battled hard, but paid the price for their quarter-final exertions. Indeed, after a promising start, hesitant defending from the Lionesses enabled Ho Un Byol to wriggle free before firing past Lauren Davey from a tight angle. The Asians went on to double their lead before the break, Jon Myong Hwa stealing in for her fourth goal of the tournament.
Lois Fidler's charges did not throw in the towel and were handed a lifeline with a quarter of an hour still remaining, Rebecca Jane finishing well from Lauren Bruton's clever pass. Unlike the match against Japan, however, there was to be no stoppage-time equaliser for the brave English, who now need to lift themselves for Sunday's play-off for third place against Germany.
The USA striker is running like clockwork here in New Zealand and has scored in each of her five matches so far. Her latest goal could not have been more vital, cancelling out Germany's opener and helping her side into the final. Can she keep her remarkable run going in the decider?
What they said
"We've had a lot of criticism here for coming out on top in games when we've not been the better side, but on this occasion I think it was the other way round. But we wish the Koreans all the best in the final and we'll prepare for the third place game as we would have for the final," Lois Fidler, England coach.
All the results
Korea DPR 2-1 England
Germany 1-2 USA