CHONGQING: Korea Republic held defending champions China 1-1 to finish on top of Group B in the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship here at the Datianwan Stadium on Tuesday.
Jung Hae-in cancelled Chinese star forward Ma Xiaoxu’s 41st minute opener in the 80th minute for a share of the points which also ensured that Korea Republic topped the group ahead of China on goal difference.
Played in front of a thousand vocal fans, both teams impressed with their high technical level and aggression.
China had the best chance of opening the scoring in the 37th minute when their tall striker Li Wen was supplied with a pinpoint cross from the left. Li connected strongly but Korean custodian Kim Seoul A palmed the ball out and the rebound shot was cleared by the defenders.
A minute later Chinese striker Zhu Wei danced past the defence but her shot was too feeble.
The elusive goal came four minutes before the break when current AFC Women’s and Youth Player of the Year Ma surged past her marker Kim Na-rae and let rip with her left foot, a shot the goalkeeper had no chance of stopping.
After the break, the Koreans upped their forays and should have equalized in the 68th minute when Kim Soo-yun found herself in front of Chinese goalkeeper Chi Xiaohui but indecision led to her shot being blocked by the regrouping defenders.
Ten minutes before the final whistle substitute Korean winger Lee Eun-mi arrowed a good cross from the left to striker Jung who outjumped Chi Xiaohui to restore parity.
Korean coach Lee Young-ki was happy with the top place in Group B.
"I don’t think we played to our full ability today as both teams had already qualified for the semifinals. Maybe we played better than our rivals but they were more confident,” said Lee.
Chinese coach Gao Rongming agreed with his Korean counterpart. "Many of our players performed well in this match but a few young players were nervous because the match was broadcast live,’’ said Gao.
"I think both teams played very well and I am satisfied with our performance.’’
Korea Republic’s reward for topping the group is a place against the Group A runners-up in the final while China meet the toppers of Group A.
World champions DPR Korea and Japan have already qualified for the last four from Group A and the final group standings will be decided after tomorrow’s games.