A thrilling day under the Chilean sunshine ended with the holders and their predecessors completing the line-up for the last four at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2008. Korea DPR edged past Japan in an all-Asian showdown, while Germany held firm to progress at Brazil’s expense.

The results mean a farewell to two of the teams whose dashing approach had won them a place in the hearts of many spectators. Elimination comes as an especially bitter blow to the Brazilians, who miss out on the last four at this tournament for the first time since its inception.

A combination of dynamism and adroit tactics paid off for both the North Koreans and the Germans, who will now more than ever believe in their chances of lifting the prestigious trophy again. The Asian powerhouses take on surprise package France in Temuco on Thursday, with the titanic struggle between long-time foes Germany and the USA in Coquimbo taking place on the same day.

The big game
Brazil 2-3 Germany

Many experts and fans alike tipped superstar Erika and her on-fire team-mates to win the clash in Temuco. The South Americans had sparkled on their way to the last eight, dominating their opponents with a blend of attractive and skilful football. But you should never underestimate the Germans, and it was clear in advance that the Europeans represented a different calibre of opponent. That proved to be the case on the day, as Maren Meinert’s side tackled like dervishes and left the Brazilians little room to express their creativity.

The South Americans took the lead via an own goal from German skipper Carolin Schiewe, but Sylvie Banecki, her twin sister Nicole, and Nathalie Bock all hit the target to turn the game on its head, the Germans responding commendably to the inspirational promptings of sub Lisa Schwab. At the end of the day it was German keeper Alisa Vetterlein who ensured her side clung on to win with a string of sensational saves, although her resistance finally broke when the Brazilians pulled one back in the closing stages.

The other game
Japan 1-2 Korea DPR

The result was fundamentally no surprise, as Japan coach Norio Sasaki admitted afterwards. The match duly followed a pattern the world has come to expect when the two giants of Asian women’s football cross swords: Japan provide moments of technical brilliance, but Korea DPR score when it mattered.

With playmaker Natsuko Hara a shade below her influential best in La Florida/Santiago, Japanese skill and finesse were not quite enough to withstand the champions' formidable physical and mental strength in all areas of the park. Japan enjoyed a remarkable 60 per cent of the possession but were only able to score once, via a sublime Asano Nagasato free-kick to equalise after Cha Hu Nam had opened the scoring. Ra Un Sim fired the winner, sealing the victory for her organised and disciplined side.

The player
Alisa Vetterlein
The Germany keeper must take a huge share of the credit for her team’s win against Brazil. A bellowing presence between the sticks, she organised and cajoled her defenders into a formidable shield, leaving few gaps for the South Americans to exploit. She instantly recovered her composure after the 88th-minute slip-up which handed Brazil fresh hope at 3-2, pulling off a dramatic last-gasp save from Daiane to send her side through to the last four.

What they said
"It’s not always the best team that wins, sometimes it’s the more efficient team. But we’re leaving the tournament with our pride intact, because we battled to the very last second."
Francielle, Brazil midfielder

The results
Japan 1-2 Korea DPR
Brazil 2-3 Germany