Linzi: DPR Korea will play hosts China in the quarter-finals of the AFC Under-19 Championship after securing second place in Group B with a 2-0 win over Bahrain at Linzi Stadium on Thursday.
The 2006 winners defeated Iraq in their second game of the group stage on Tuesday to move level on three points with Bahrain and ensure there was all to play for.
DPR Korea were the better side throughout this encounter though and second-half goals from Ri Hyong-jin and Pak Song-chol secured the three points to see them finish their group stage campaign in second place behind Uzbekistan.
The East Asians were clearly brimming with confidence following their comfortable 3-0 victory over Iraq and it was they who threatened first when Pak Song-chol launched an effort over the bar from the edge of the area.
Yun Jong-su’s side continued to dominate possession and Jang Kuk-chol tried to get the better of two defenders midway through the half but Sultan Thani reacted quickly to poke the ball back to goalkeeper Ebrahim Khalil.
Bahrain, meanwhile, were taking a more cautious approach and rarely progressed into the final third, although goalkeeper Om Jin-song had to be alert to pluck the ball from the head of Saad Saleh on the half hour.
Saleh continued to prove the main dangerman for Bahrain and he hit a low effort into the hands of Om four minutes before the break.
Jang Kuk-chol failed to divert a cross into the back of the net with the goal at his mercy four minutes into the second half but the Koreans were ahead in the 55th minute when Ri Hyong-jin fired home from distance, giving Khalil no chance.
It was almost 2-0 three minutes later when a deep cross from the left found substitute Kim Ju-song unmarked but his volley was kneed away for a corner by Khalil.
Khalil was again in fine form for Bahrain as Ri Hyon-song picked out Kim Ju-song inside the area and the forward wrong-footed his marker but his seemingly goal-bound shot was cleared by the outstretched leg of the keeper.
Bahrain skipper Sayed Dhiya had his head in his hands in the 65th minute when he missed a gilt-edged chance to equalise, failing to connect with the ball when found unmarked inside the area by Ali Muneer.
It proved a costly miss as DPR Korea wrapped up the victory with a second 10 minutes later when Pak Song-chol controlled a lofted ball inside the area before slotting home.