France, Korea in final


EXTRA-TIME goals decided the finalists of the women’s under-20 soccer World Cup in Port Moresby yesterday.
The exciting semifinals lifted a notch in the end which saw North Korea beat the US 2-1 ,with Jon So Yon plugging in the winner in extra time after a 1-1 draw at fulltime. All three goals in the other semi came after regulation time, with Juliane Gathrat lifting France to a 2-1 victory over one of the tournament favourites Japan.
France, while quietly strong in the 16-team tournament, now carry the hopes of Europe in Saturday’s final against the no-frills North Koreans. An all-Asian climax had been anticipated generally.
Mateo and Gathrat scored for France, giving the Gilles Eyquem-coached team their first cup final.
North Korea coach Hwang Yongbong’s credentials as one of the best at this tournament were cemented as his side had an answer for everything the Americans threw at them.
US hopes of making a fourth World Cup final, and attempting to win as many, were dashed as Hyang Sim Ri scored the winner a minute into extra time.
From that point the contest was an endgame for the North Koreans, who systematically shut out  Stars and Stripes.
The Michelle French-coached Yanks were kept in the fight with a Natalie Jacobs equaliser, a minute before the end of regulation time but that only delayed the inevitable.
Meanwhile, having never made a final but finishing in the top three, ironically enough with a 3-2 win over North Korea in the third-place playoff in the 2014 edition, France were anything but a finals-bound side for most of the contest.
Still, as they did against Germany in the quarterfinals, Les Bleuetes were efficient and proved they  can never be counted out regardless of the quality of the opposition.
The semi-finals were attended by a healthy crowd of 11,000 and no doubt many more watching intently as the cream rose to the top of the tournament.

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