Korea DPR have qualified for the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005, making Italy the first European team to return home from the tournament. Kik Kuk Yin nicked the first-half opener which saw Korea DPR join China as the second Asian representative in the last sixteen. Italy's equaliser through Simone Palermo proved too little too late.
The situation before the game was clear: Italy needed to win if they were to secure their future in the tournament. That hard fact caused coach Francesco Rocca to make dramatic and enforced changes to the side that went down 3:1 to USA. Only six of that starting line-up survived the cut. North Korean counterpart Jo Tong Sop, meanwhile, kept faith with the same 11 that defeated Côte d'Ivoire 3:0. The Italian bench was actually manned by assistant coach Gesualdo Piacenti, Rocca having been confined to the stands in the clash with the USA.
The North Koreans made the first impact on the match, Choe Myong Ho's 20-yard free-kick shaking the bar (10'). Italy responded with an early chance of their own when Dalla Costa rounded the keeper, only to drift too wide and spurn the opportunity (13'). Clearly dissatisfied with his team's performance Rocca gesticulated from the stands, almost in anticipation of what was shortly to follow. Ri Hung Ryong was dispossessed illegally after Cia wasted possession in midfield. KIM sent a 25-yard free-kick against the bar, leaving Kim Kuk Yin a simple tap-in rebound for 1:0 (22)
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Italy tried to respond, now knowing they would need two goals to reach the quarter-finals, but Dalla Costa sent his shot from the inside left position wide of the North Korean goal (25'). Korea DPR continued to look the sprightlier, remaining compact in defence and allowing Italy little space in which to operate. Moreover, they were the more dangerous team on the attack: KIM was thwarted at the last moment after a fine solo run (35') and could have doubled his team's lead in injury time after a fine pass from Pak Chol Min (45+1).
North Koreans sit on lead
Italy remained short of ideas in the second period, while Korea DPR now seemed content to protect their lead. In a relatively uneventful 45 minutes, it was Korea DPR again who provided the first highlight when Kim was dismissed after a second yellow card, leaving the Asians to play the remainder with ten men (72'). Italy stepped up the pressure in the final quarter of an hour and were rewarded with a gilt-edged chance that substitute Andrea Russotto narrowly failed to covert (77'). Simone Palermo finally netted an equaliser in injury time (1:1, 90+2'), but it proved too little too late for the Italians.
North Korean coach Jo Tong Sop was pleased with the outcome: "Obviously I am happy that we have reached the quarter-finals. It is an incredible experience for my young players. Now we are all looking forward to the quarter-final."
Italian coach Francesco Rocca was disappointed with his team's exit: "Korea played good football. We have to acknowledge that. Had our offside goal been allowed, it would have been a completely different situation. However, I still think the tournament has been a tremendous experience for my players. I would like to thank FIFA, the organisers and the wonderful Peruvian people."