Tashkent: Two first-half goals were enough to send DPR Korea through to the final of the 2010 AFC U-16 Championship following a 2-1 victory over Japan at Pakhtakor Stadium on Thursday.
Ri Song-ho’s side stormed ahead as Ju Jong-chol opened the scoring just minutes into the game before Pak Myong-song added a second in the 11th minute.
DPR Korea were clearly intent to shut up shop after that and it could have proved costly after Masaya Matsumoto halved the deficit midway through the second half.
However, the game petered out without any further real chances for either side meaning DPR Korea will tackle hosts Uzbekistan in Sunday’s final.
DPR Korea have been impressive performers in Tashkent and they quickly made an impression in this semi-final clash by taking a third minute lead.
Japan keeper Kosuke Nakamura flapped at a free-kick and the ball fell kindly for Ju who swept a shot between two defenders and into the back of the net.
The Samurai Blue were faced with a mountain to climb just eight minutes later when DPR Korea added a second as Ro Myong-song delivered a cross from the left that was headed on by Jang Ok-chol and Pak Myong-song poked home from six yards.
But, with the Japanese players likely deflated and the North Koreans happy to sit back, the pace of the game slowed down considerably with opportunities few and far between for either side.
With chances of victory already a tall order, Japan coach Hirofumi Yoshitake opted to throw on Reo Mochizuki and Masaya Matsumoto in the first half in a bid to reinvigorate his side.
The second half got off to a slow start but eventually Japan suddenly brought themselves back into the game with Yoshitake’s early substitution gamble paying off when the two combined just before the hour, with Mochizuki feeding a pass to Matsumoto who delivered a shot on the turn from the edge of the area and into the back of the net.
The goal brought Japan to life and they pushed forward from then on in search of an equaliser, coming close on a number of occasions through Minamino and Matsumoto.
But the threat of a thrilling finale never arrived as the game once again settled into a midfield battle and a harmless shot that flew over the bar from Kim Song-ho signalled the end of the match and with it DPR Korea’s passage to the final.