Japan beat two-time defending champions Korea DPR 1-0 today to avenge their defeat four years ago and take the gold medal. The winner came against the run of play in a tense game of few clear-cut chances, Japan's Azusa Iwashimizu heading in unchallenged from a corner on 74 minutes to score the winner.
The Japanese, who were roundly jeered whenever they came forward, were close on 22 minutes, striker Shinobu Ohno firing just wide, the ball nestling in the side-netting of North Korean keeper Hong Myong-Hui's goal.
But Korea slowly warmed to their task and midfielder Ri Ye-Gyong saw her header well saved by Japanese keeper Nozomi Yamago in front of 23,000 people at Tianhe Stadium.
The Koreans, cheered on by a vocal band of about 150 fans wearing matching red jackets and caps, went even closer three minutes before the break, but Ra Un-Sim's lovely curling strike rattled the bar, with Yamago well beaten.
Korea DPR dominated much of the second-half, their superior strength leaving the Japanese wilting. A nervous-looking Yamago made a mess of a high ball on the hour, her fumble desperately scrambled out for a corner. But just as Korea looked to be getting closer, the Japan sucker-punch came.
Korea DPR had a final chance in injury time, but Choe Yong-Sim's header from a corner flashed just wide. Korea DPR won the 2006 gold medal match in Doha 4-2 on penalties against Japan and the two teams drew 0-0 earlier in the group stages.
Earlier today, two first-half strikes helped Korea Republic beat China 2-0 and win bronze.