Korea DPR scaled the peak of women's football for the second time in two years today. The Asians added the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup title to the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup crown they claimed in Russia in 2006, thus breaking a tradition that had seen beaten finalists USA win the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup, FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup and Women's Olympic Football Tournament.
Having arrived Down Under with nothing but victory on their mind, Germany gained some consolation for their semi-final defeat by clinching bronze. And despite coming off second best in the match for third place, England can leave New Zealand with their heads held high.
Korea DPR must have felt it was not going to be their day when the Americans stole into the lead after just two minutes. Cloee Colohan's long throw deceived everyone as it sailed into the Korean box, before bouncing over goalkeeper Hong Myong Hui, who could only push the ball into the back of the net as she attempted a last-ditch save. Agonisingly for Hong, had she not touched the ball, the goal would not have stood.
That fortuitous strike was almost enough to earn USA the trophy. But with only 13 minutes remaining, the Asians finally got back in the game. Reacting first when Ri Un Ae's fine free-kick came back off the bar, Kim Un Ju hooked the ball back for Kim Un Yang to head home and send the game into extra-time. And as penalties beckoned, Jang Hyon Sun kept her cool to round off a textbook counter-attack and put Korea DPR on top of the world.
The other match
Germany put their tearful semi-final defeat in Christchurch behind them with an impressive performance in the third-place match, beating England 3-0. Ralf Peter's side were too quick, skilful and strong for their opponents, and stamped their authority with typical promptness when Inka Wesely headed home unmarked from a corner.
Had it not been for Lauren Davey in the England goal and some wayward finishing from Dzsenifer Marozsan, the European champions would have wrapped the game up long before the end. As it was, they had to wait until the final 15 minutes before putting the match beyond England's reach, Lynn Mester and Turid Knaak completing the scoring to give the Germans something to smile about when they depart New Zealand. Beaten on the day, England can look back on the tournament with great satisfaction, after unexpectedly reaching the semi-finals.
The extra-time substitute needed only nine minutes to write her name in the tournament annals, beating goalkeeper Taylor Vancil at the end of an impressive team move to ensure Korea DPR took the honours at the first ever FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.
What they said
"Our only aim when we came here (to New Zealand) was to win and today we achieved that objective. My players and I are happy and proud," Ri Ui Ham, Korea DPR coach.