Korea Republic became the first team at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago to book their place in the semi-finals, beating Nigeria 6-5 after extra time in an enthralling encounter that saw Yeo Min Ji score four goals and move to the top of the tournament scoring charts. The Koreans now move on to the meet the winner of the clash between Spain and Brazil in the last four.
The Koreans had a nightmare start to the affair, conceding twice in the space of the first three minutes. The first came when a looping corner-kick fell to Loveth Ayila, who made no mistake in poking the ball toward the far post with the outside of her right boot. Shin Damyeong tried clear off the line but the ball flew into the roof of the net off her boot with only two minutes gone.
Hardly had the Nigerian celebrations ended than the Koreans were again picking the ball out their own net. This time, a fine through pass from Ngozi Okobi on the right side was collected by Winifred Eyebhoria and the Ibom Stars ace slotted home a cool finish to the back post. It looked like a rout was on the cards at the Manny Ramjohn, but the Asians slowly began to haul themselves back into the contest, looking especially dangerous on the break with the lively Yeo Min Ji as dangerous as ever. In the 6th minute she had the Koreans’ first shot, but it lacked the power to trouble Amina Abu. She got it right on the quarter-hour mark, however, laying on a fine low cross for Lee Geum Min to tap home from six yards out.
Yeo Min Ji then levelled the scores seven minutes later, sliding home her fourth goal of these finals from close range. She raced in unmarked to get on the end of the long cross from the left as the Nigerians’ early lead and dominance evaporated in the warm air. With 33 minutes gone Ayila nearly managed to get Nigeria back in front after a spell where they looked decidedly second-best, but her shot from the corner of the box grazed Kim Minah’s crossbar. Okobi did manage to make it 3-2 for the Flamingoes seven minutes from the interval, poking home after some confusion in the Korean rearguard.
The Koreans managed to get themselves back on level terms when Geum Min was felled on her way to goal. The Greek referee did not hesitate in pointing to the spot, despite Nigerian protestations that the foul took place outside of the area. Yeo Min Ji duly slammed home from the spot in the 70th minute for her second of the match. The scorer must have then thought she’d won the game when she chased a long ball from midfield, rounded the flailing Abu and slammed home with only seconds to go. But the Nigerians, never out of it, drew the scores level 4-4 in stoppage time and forced extra time when Okobi grabbed her second of the game after Kim Minah uncharacteristically spilled the ball in the penalty area.
Kim Areum got on the end of a long ball from midfield from Jang Selgi and poked underneath the advancing Abu four minutes into the first period of extra time. Yeo Min Ji then followed up shortly after with a firm header from a corner-kick to bag her fourth goal of the match. The Nigerians made it 6-5 after 13 minutes when Ayila poked home her second of the match at the near post. It was too little too late though, as the Asians will now take on the winner of the quarter-final between Spain and Brazil in Couva on Friday, while the West Africans head for home.