The South Koreans earned their place in the tournament decider by edging out Spain 2-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Although Las Rojitas dominated possession and had more than twice as many shots on goal, it was the dogged Taeguk Ladies who proved the more capable finishers, with Yeo Min-Ji and Joo Soo-Jin converting first-half chances to cancel out Amanda Sampedro’s opener.
Waiting for them in the final are the young Nadeshiko, who shrugged off Kim Kum-Jong’s opener on the hour mark to down Korea DPR by the same scoreline at the same venue. Hikari Takagi pulled the Japanese level with 20 minutes remaining, with Kumi Yokoyama reprising her quarter-final heroics against Republic of Ireland by hitting another stunning winner just moments later.
Goal of the day
Korea DPR 1-2 Japan, Kumi Yokoyama 70’
“She’s been scoring decisive goals all the way through the tournament and she’s done it again tonight. She’s one of my best players, without question.” Japan coach Hiroshi Yoshida had good reason to praise matchwinner Yokoyama after she sent the Japanese into Saturday’s final with her latest wonder strike. Collecting the ball 25 yards out and ghosting past four defenders on a slaloming run that even Lionel Messi would have been proud of, Yokoyama then fired a low drive past Korea DPR keeper Choe Kyong-Im to complete Japan’s quickfire comeback.
South Koreans reap the rewards
Tuesday 21 September is the day on which the people of Korea Republic celebrate Chuseok, their harvest festival. Choi Duck-Joo’s charges made sure it was a day of plenty when they edged out the Spanish to win through to the final for the first time. And to express their thanks for Yeo Min-Ji’s first-half equaliser, the celebrating South Koreans formed a line in front of the fans at the Ato Boldon Stadium before falling to their knees in gratitude.
Supersubs to the rescue
The substitutes played a vital role in the outcome of the day’s second semi-final between Korea DPR and Japan. Coming on eight minutes into the second half, North Korean forward Kim Yun-Mi quickly made her mark, firing in a fierce free-kick that Japan keeper Eri Hirao could only push into the path of Kim Kum-Jong, who turned the loose ball home. The Japanese had a supersub of their own in Kumi Yokoyama, however. Surprisingly omitted from the starting line-up, the Jumonji HS forward was brought into the fray on 31 minutes and proved her worth with a classy second-half winner.
8 - The number of goals Korea Republic’s Yeo Min-Ji has now scored at Trinidad and Tobago 2010. The in-form striker’s smartly taken equaliser against Spain took her into the lead in the race for the adidas Golden Boot. The only player who can now deny her the coveted goalscoring accolade is Japan’s Yokoyama, who has six goals to her name.
What they said
“I’m delighted with the result, of course, but I’m not entirely satisfied with my performance because I was at fault for the North Korean goal. Luckily my team-mates were on hand to ensure my error wasn’t a fatal one,” Eri Hirao, Japan goalkeeper and captain.