Korea DPR hold wasteful England
© AFP

Korea DPR gave this FIFA U-20 World Cup an unforeseen start by holding England to a 0-0 draw in Medellin. The result was a severe blow to the Europeans' hopes of reaching the knockout phase, given that they have the competition's record six-time winners Argentina and Mexico, the reigning U-17 champions, still left to play in Group F. 

The rain was thrashing down onto the turf in the hours leading up to the game, but it ceased just as the two teams were about engage in battle.

Korea DPR nearly landed the first blow with just five minutes gone, with Jong Il Gwan's firm free-kick going narrowly wide of Jack Butland's post.

England monopolised possession thereafter, though they failed to test Om Jing Song until after the half-hour mark, when Saido Berahino's strike from the edge of the box forced the North Korean number one into a fine save.

The opportunities then began to flow for Brian Eastick's youngsters. First, Matthew Phillips raced down the right and crossed for Billy Knott, who headed wide from six yards out, before the latter set up the former, whose shot failed to trouble Jong.

Knott had two further chances before the break in the form of a 25-yard piledriver that flew just wide, and a back-post header he really should have got on target, while Berahino had the last attempt of the half, though it was comfortably saved by Om.

Unlike the first, the second half was a drab affair, with very few chances. Blair Adams came closest to putting England ahead with a neat free-kick, but Om tipped the ball over.

The lively, inventive Pak Song Chol had the best chance for Korea DPR, who held their own after the break, but he dragged his effort wide after an impressive dribble.

When the referee's whistle brought the 0-0 draw to an end, the players' expression said it all: the North Koreans had pulled off a fine result, while their opponents' possibility of going through had taken a big knock.