Linzi: DPR Korea gave their hopes of reaching the last eight of the AFC U-19 Championship a boost following a 3-0 victory over Iraq at Linzi Stadium on Tuesday.
Jang Kuk-chol and Jang Song-hyok scored in the first half before a late Pak Song-chol strike secured the comfortable victory for Yun Jong-su’s side whilst condemning Iraq to a second successive defeat and all but ending their own hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals.
DPR Korea have three points in Group B and play Bahrain in their final group game on Thursday while Iraq are bottom of the standings without a point from two games.
Defensive frailties cost Iraq in their opening game against Bahrain on Sunday and it almost cost them again five minutes into this match as a ball over the top of the defence allowed Pak Song-chol to go clear on goal but the pacey forward lobbed his shot onto the roof of the net with just the goalkeeper to beat.
The Koreans continued to look lively and skipper Ri Hyok-chol drove a low shot through a crowded area into the side-netting after 10 minutes.
It seemed only a matter of time before they took the lead and four minutes later they did just that when Jong Il-kwan received the ball on the left and delivered a low cross to the feet of Jang Kuk-chol, who stabbed home from the middle of the area.
Despite the early setback Iraq were getting forward well but letting themselves down in the final third with Amjed Kalaf expressing his frustration on a number of occasions as his crosses into the area failed to find the green shirts of his teammates.
And instead it got worse for Iraq on the stroke of half time when Ri Hyok-chol was sent tumbling inside the area and Jang Song-hyok confidently stepped up to send the spot kick into the back of the net with goalkeeper Mohammed Hamed diving the wrong way.
Ri Hyok-chol had a shot cleared off the line by an Iraq defender two minutes into the second half but after that chance Iraq began to get into the game more and had a good opportunity on the hour when a curling free-kick from substitute Ali Zwaeed forced keeper Om Jin-song to punch clear.
DPR Korea were still looking dangerous on the break and only a fine save from Hameed in the 70th minute prevented the East Asians from adding a third after Jong Il-kwan had embarked on a mazy run through the Iraq defence before hitting a low shot that the goalkeeper did well to push behind for a corner.
But with Iraq pushing forward in search of goals in the closing stages, DPR Korea added a third in stoppage time when Pak Song-chol was sent through on goal and the forward rifled a shot into the back of the net.