THE DAY REPLAYED – Korea DPR and France will contest the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016, having both emerged victorious from dramatic semi-final encounters decided after extra time.
The North Koreans needed 120 nail-biting minutes to defeat three-time world champions USA and reach the final for the first time in eight years. The result also enabled them to exact revenge on their North American rivals for their loss in the final at Chile 2008.
Extra time was also required to separate Japan and France in a tightly-contested game. The Europeans came out on top after a fervent struggle to reach the tournament decider for the first time.
*Korea DPR 2-1 USA a.e.t.
Japan 1-2 France a.e.t.
Goal of the day
Korea DPR 1-1 USA (Natalie Jacobs 89’)
With just seconds remaining until the end of normal time and USA struggling to threaten their opponents’ goal, Jon So-Yon’s penalty looked certain to send the Asian side to the final. Yet Natalie Jacobs was determined to do all she could to stave off the looming threat of defeat. In a move that any striker would be proud of, the right-back was on hand to capitalise when the Korean defence failed to clear a throw-in into the penalty area. With a first-time left-footed strike, Jacobs directed the ball beyond goalkeeper Kim Myong-Sun to net a dramatic equaliser and reignite the three-time world champions’ hopes of reaching the final. Although they ultimately lost the match, the Stars and Stripes once again showed the kind of fighting spirit in the closing stages that enabled them to beat Mexico in the quarter-finals.
*Memorable moments *
*#ENDviolence: *Both semi-final duels paid tribute to the #ENDviolence campaign as the captains of each team read out a statement in their native language before kick-off to denounce violence against women and children. All of the players and match officials then gathered for a group photo behind a banner bearing the #ENDviolence hashtag. The initiative forms part of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup sustainability programme and sets out to change perceptions of women and violence in the ten Pacific nations.
*Made to wait: *Korea DPR could have saved themselves the trouble of extra time if Kim Phyong-Hwa had converted a gilt-edged chance to score the winner just moments before the end of normal time. After rising unchallenged to meet Ri Hyang-Sim’s perfectly weighted cross just a few metres out, the midfielder could only deflect the ball well over the crossbar. Coach Hwang Yong-Bong sunk to his knees in disbelief on the touchline, having been poised to celebrate a seemingly inevitable goal just moments earlier.
*Injuries galore: *The medical staff of both teams had their hands full during the match between Japan and France, with three particularly unlucky players – Sakina Karchaoui, Mami Ueno and Asato Miyagawa – unable to play on after being carried from the pitch. We wish them all a speedy recovery.
A famous talisman: *The French enjoyed high-profile support at the Sir John Guise Stadium in the shape of the nation’s most-capped player, Sandrine Soubeyrand. Now coach of the country’s U-17 side, the retired midfielder made a special trip to Papua New Guinea to support *Les Bleuettes in their semi-final.
5 – Talk about nerves of steel. Jon So-Yon’s opener against USA was her fifth goal at a U-20 Women’s World Cup – all of them scored from the penalty spot.
"It was a tense match with great intensity from both teams throughout. I’m extremely proud of my team; they gave it everything they had. Although it’s disappointing to come away empty-handed, we’ve got to keep looking forward. Our players need to understand that our job here isn’t done yet. We’ve got to pick ourselves up, as we can still finish in third place."
Michelle French, USA coach
Saturday 3 December
Match for third place
USA-Japan, 16.00 (National Football Stadium)
Korea DPR-France, 19.30 (National Football Stadium)
(All times local)