Tehran: A spectacular Ri Kwang-song goal eight minutes from time saw DPR Korea defeat Saudi Arabia 2-1 at the PAS Stadium on Tuesday and keep alive their hopes of retaining the AFC U-16 Championship crown.
DPR Korea took the lead through Ri Ryong's 48th minute strike only for Abdulkarim Al Qahtani to equalise for the Saudis from the penalty spot five minutes later. But with the clock ticking down and the draw looking inevitable Ri Kwang-song struck from distance to give the defending champions victory.
Both sides lost their opening Group D matches with DPR Korea going down 3-0 to Korea Republic, who booked their place in the last eight with a 3-1 defeat of Japan in the earlier match at the PAS Stadium, and Saudi Arabia losing 2-0 to the Japanese, so three points were a must for either of them to have any chance of a place in the quarter-finals.
The Saudis had the first crack on goal but Abdullah Al Megbas' sixth-minute shot was comfortably gathered by Korean keeper Kim Yu-il, who was starting in place of Ha Jin-myong, before Kim's counterpart Waleed Abu Milah had to react sharply to prevent Kim Song-min's cross reaching An Song-il after some good build up play on the left flank seven minutes later.
The East Asians dominated the opening exchanges with the Saudis mostly trying to capitalise on the pace of Abdulaziz Hazazi, who started in place of Mohammed Al Shahrani, and Al Megbas with long balls played over the top of the DPRK defence.
They almost had better luck from the set-piece in the 27th minute when a free-kick from the right was met by the leaping Sumayhan Al Nabit only for the Saudi midfielder's bullet header to be brilliantly saved by Kim Yu-il.
Keeper Kim again came to the Koreans' rescue in the 35th minute when he got down smartly to save Al Nabit's well-taken volley as the Saudis began to take a grip on the game.
Five minutes from the break, a pinpoint pass from Jon Kum-song released Ri Ryong into a scoring position but the DPR Korea forward missed the target before An Song-il's fierce drive drew a flying save from Abu Milah.
The Saudi keeper was again called into action in first-half stoppage-time, with another superb save to keep out Kim Ju-hyok's free-kick.
Just as they did at the end of the first-half DPR Korea dominated the start of the second and took the lead just three minutes after the restart when Ri Ryong dispatched the ball past Abu Milah after being teed-up inside the box by Kim Song-min's intelligent pass.
But the lead lasted just five minutes, with Abdulkarim Al Qahtani equalising from the penalty spot after Hassan Ghazwani had been bundled over in the box while charging towards goal.
As the second-half wore on, the draw was looking the most likely outcome until a moment of individual brilliance put DPR Korea in the driving seat, with a spectacular long-range effort from skipper Ri Kwang-song eight minutes from time settling the contest.
DPR Korea's hopes of retaining the AFC U-16 Championship title the East Asian nation won by beating hosts Uzbekistan in 2010 now rest on taking all three points against Japan at the PAS Stadium on Thursday and while the Saudis have only pride to play for when they take on Korea Republic in the other Group D match kicking off simultaneously over at the Rah Ahan Stadium.
source : the-afc.com
source : the-afc.com