South Korea shocked reigning Women's World Cup champions Japan, defeating them 2-1 in the last East Asian Cup women's match on Sunday and helping neighbours North Korea claim their first title at the regional event.
Striker Ji So-Yun scored both South Korean goals at Seoul's Jamsil Olympic
Stadium, as the hosts won for the first time at this year's event and denied
Japan their third consecutive East Asian Cup title.
Earlier on Saturday, North Korea defeated China 1-0 to end the tournament on
Japan entered the final showdown with four points and needed a victory to
clinch seven points and beat North Korea on goal difference.
South Korea, losers of the first two matches, were the heavy underdogs
against Japan, which brought back 16 members from its 2011 Women's World
The hosts, though, played with more fire on both ends than they'd shown in
previous matches, and struck first on Ji's free kick in the 13th.
From right of the arc, Ji – who plays in Japan's L-League – drilled her free
kick over the Japanese wall and into the top right hand corner, out of 'keeper
Ayumi Kaihori's reach.
Japan struggled against the physical South Korean defence and failed to
record a shot on net in the opening 45 minutes.
With North Korean players watching from the stands, South Korea appeared
content with the one-goal advantage to start the latter half.
In the 57th minute, Jeon Ga-Eul just missed the far corner with a floating
shot from the left edge of the box.
But South Korea doubled their advantage in the 66th with Ji's second
successful strike of the match. She took a cross from Kwon Hah-Nul from right
and capitalised on confusion in Japan's defence to put it past Kaihori once
Japan cut the deficit in half in the 72nd minute, as Yuki Ogimi scored on her
own rebound. The goal breathed new life into Japan, who dominated the ball in
the final stretch of the game.
In the 80th, Kozue Ando shot one off the far post from the left edge of the
box. Six minutes later, Mizuho Sakaguchi nearly scored with South Korean keeper
Kim Jung-Mi out of position, but midfielder Kim Soo-Yun headed the shot out of
During the North Korea, China match Ri Un-Hyang scored 90 seconds into the
game, stunning the goalkeeper Wang Fei with her floating header.
North Korea maintained possession superiority in the second half, but neither
side threatened to score. In the final stretch, North Korea put more pressure on
China, with Ra Un-Sim and Kim Jo-Ran testing Wang in the Chinese net.
It was the first trip by the North Korean women's football team to South
Korea since 2005.