The U.S squeezed past a tough Korea DPR side 2-1 to set up a semi-final encounter with Nigeria.
An extra-time winner from substitute Chioma Ubogagu gave the U.S a good win over their tough opponents, and means they remain on course to win their third U-20’s World Cup.
The game began cagey with both teams struggling to create any chances, with the first real attempt on goal not coming until the 16th minute, when Morgan Brian hit a speculative effort from range. However, the University of Virginia midfielder’s shot failed to call the keeper into action, as it sailed high over the bar.
As the half went on Korea DPR started slowly to assert themselves, dominating possession, and controlling the game. And they almost found themselves in front, when a clever worked free kick allowed midfielder Jom space to shoot. The Korea DPR number 8 connected well with her strike, but U.S keeper Bryane Heaberlin was not about to be beaten from range, and tipped the shot wide of the right hand post.
Korea DPR was looking more of an attacking threat, and two good tackles from Captain Julie Johnston insured the U.S remained on level terms. However, as the half drew to a close the U.S could have possibly taken the lead twice. First in the 40th minute, when Morgan Brian’s goal-bound header was diverted wide—seemly by her own teammate. Then secondly, just before the half-time whistle, when a ball over the top found Maya Hayes onside in acres of space. However, the Pennsylvania State forward’s first touch let her down, allowing the Korean back line to recover and clear the danger.
The U.S started the second half with more intent, pushing players forward and looking more like an attacking threat. And their ambition and industry was quickly rewarded, as they took the lead in the 50th minute. Vanessa Di Bernardo collecting the ball 35 yards out from goal, moving the ball out from her feet, before hitting a peach of a strike which sailed into the left hand side of the goal, leaving Korea DPR keeper O Chang Ran with no chance.
The game started to open up as Korea DPR started to commit more players forward in search of a goal, and the U.S should have doubled their lead when substitute Samantha Mewis put Brian through on goal. However, the U.S number 6 elected to pass instead of shooting, misplacing her pass and letting Korea off the hook.
However, the Koreans were looking increasingly dangerous, as they pushed forward with attack after attack. And they finally got the goal they were looking for in the 75th minute, when some good interplay in midfield allowed subsitute KIM Su Gyong with an opening inside the box. The midfielder took advantage of opening, smashing her shot into the top corner of the net to level the game with 15 minutes left to play.
Both teams looked for a winner as the game drew to a close, but neither side could find the breakthrough needed to win the game in normal time, and so a second quarter-final at the U-20’s headed into extra-time.
And just like the other quarter-final, a single goal in extra-time settled the affair, with The decisive goal coming from substitute Chioma Ubogagu. The Stansford University forward peeled off her marker at the far post to put the finishing touches onto a pinpoint cross from right-back Crystal DUNN.
Korea DPR struggled to muster any chances in the time that remained, and the U.S saw out the game to set up an exciting encounter with Nigeria next Tuesday in Tokyo.