Spain finished their first FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in some style, controlling possession and edging out Korea DPR 1-0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Saturday. Raquel Pinel’s goal early in the second half was enough to see the European champions win the day and seal third-place at Trinidad and Tobago 2010.
Spain were in complete control of the first half from the opening whistle, dominating possession and playing with a sense of purpose. The European champions, who lost to South Korea in their semi-final, produced two chances inside the first ten minutes that had North Korea’s net-minder looking worried indeed. Choe Kyong Im knew nothing about the first opportunity after only five minutes, Nagore Calderon’s half-volley from 12 yards slamming off the crossbar after a looping centre from the left side. Gema Gili followed up just seconds later with a ferocious strike from distance that the net-minder did well to tip over the bar before it flew into the top corner.
The heavy pressure continued unabated as the half wore on, with the Koreans – as has been their trademark at these finals – sitting back hoping to hit out on the break. Spain had their best chance after 17 minutes when Calderon slipped in a lovely little through ball after leaving two defenders for dead. Unfortunately for the ladies in red, Pinel’s shot from close range lacked the quality of the service and Choe Kyong Im gathered with ease. At the end of the first 45 minutes, Spain had nothing to show for their dominance, possession and creativity in attack.
The Spaniards took the field for the second period running and gunning toward goal again, Alexia Putellas firing in a shot that grazed the crossbar in the 52nd minute. Her next effort, just two minutes later, was pushed against the crossbar by Choe Kyong Im, but in the ensuing scrum Putellas got hold of the ball and crossed low for Pinel, who fired into an open net. Spain were finally rewarded for their positive play, and they continued to push forward despite Korean coach Ri Song Gun’s decision to bring on a new striker in Kim Yun Mi.
Jorge Vilda’s charges were under intense pressure in the final ten minutes, but their 1-0 advantage stood up to ensure them third place at what is only their second FIFA Women’s competition. As a counterpoint to Spain’s elation, Trinidad and Tobago 2010 must be considered a disappointment for the defending champion North Koreans.