Thursday 24 November 2016, 13:24

Asian pair grab semi-final spots

THE DAY REPLAYED – Asia dominated the first day of quarter-finals at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup as Korea DPR secured a hard-fought win against Spain and Japan made lighter work of Brazil to become the first teams through to the last four.


*Korea DPR 3-2 (aet) Spain

Japan 3-1 Brazil

Goal of the day*Japan-Brazil, Shiho Matsubara (50)*

As far as entrances go, this was up there with the most emphatic. Despite being fresh off the bench – and with just 34 minutes of football under her belt in Papua New Guinea – Matsubara turned in a pinpoint cross from Miyabi Moriya to register Japan's second goal and cap an excellent team move.

Memorable moments*Slow to settle: It tends to take a perfect performance to beat a quality side like Korea DPR, which is why Spain were left nursing major regrets after their calamitous start against the Asian hopefuls. Nahikari Garcia missed a golden early chance and it just got worse from there as the North Koreans profited from Spain's set-pieces struggles to build a 2-0 lead. Nahikari and Lucia Garcia eventually restored parity, but Kim Phyong Hwa pounced on a tentative clearance from goalkeeper Maria Quinones to send La Rojita* crashing out of the competition.

Cultural exchange: Japan enjoyed a little additional support from around 400 Port Moresby pupils during their quarter-final against Brazil, with the youngsters' school currently undertaking an exchange programme with Japan. The pupils also made the trip to welcome the squad when they arrived for some friendly games in May, and the Young Nadeshiko showed their gratitude by joining together and bowing to their new fans in a traditional Japanese gesture at the end of their victory.

Coaching initiative: Hwang Yongbong is clearly a coach who prefers to react quickly whenever his team concedes. Against Brazil, the Korea DPR tactician made his first substitution in the 54th minute, three minutes after the South Americans had reduced the deficit for a second time. He then repeated the trick against Papua New Guinea, making a double switch in the 21st and 22nd minutes following the hosts' first goal of the tournament just after the quarter-hour mark – and was at it again today, substituting Choe Un Hwa four minutes before the break, three minutes after Spain had struck their opener. "I make no distinction between my starting XI and my bench," explained the man in charge after full time.

The stat 3 – Hwang made four changes in total against Spain, becoming just the third coach to take advantage of a FIFA Executive Committee ruling this year that allows a fourth substitution if a women's tournament match goes to extra time. The first two cases occurred during this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The words"I think that today we played our best game of the tournament against a very good side. The girls did everything possible to reach the semi-finals, but we dropped off physically during extra time. I'm proud of this group of players, who played possibly the most attractive football here at the tournament."

Pedro Lopez, Spain coach

Next matchday *Friday 25 November


USA-Mexico, 16.00 (Sir John Guise Stadium)

Germany-France, 19.30 (Sir John Guise Stadium)

(All times local)