2016 U-20 Women's World Cup Review: The French Revolution

2016 U-20 Women's World Cup Review: The French Revolution

France reached their first U-20 final while USA lost their chance to reclaim the crown at the last hurdle, another dramatic day in the U-20 WWC.

Katie Mishner

The elite are left in the competition and the semi finals of the U-20 Women's World Cup proved that. Two games, 240 minutes of excruciatingly well matched football.  

Korea DPR 2-1 USA

The two previous holders, and the only previous winners left in the tournament, went up against each other in what can only be described as a fiery encounter. 

In the first half there was few chances despite clear displays of intent, but neither team could settle into the groove of moving forward. However, that all changed in the second half when both teams sprung into cohesive and inventive bursts of play with Korea DPR enjoying more of the chances than the USA.

Despite a spell of tenacity from the Asian side, Casey Murphy played the game of her life and bravely came off her line to abruptly put a stop to their oppositions' preferred technique of - close range shots engineered through tricky footwork.

However, the advances could not be shut out forever but the goal did not come from open play, instead a penalty kick as the result of a handball. Jo Yon Son comfortably slotted the ball away as Murphy failed to predict which way the striker was heading to.

If anything, that spurred on the Stars and Stripes to find the equaliser and they did despite only having one shot on goal. Jessie Scarpa's pin point delivery to the box ended up deflecting but only as far as Natalie Jacobs who met the flailing ball with athleticism, dinking the ball straight over Kim Myong Sun.

The heat was fully there in the game once parity was restored but with a tiny fraction of time left on the clock and a diving save from Murphy, the game fell into extra time.

But with just minutes into the restart Korea DPR found their way into the box with a swift pass into space, attacking juggernaut Ri Hyang Sim met the ball, drove it close and released the ball just over Murphy who was charging forward to pressure the striker into making a mistake, but the striker had complete composure in front of the net.

A late goal line clearance prevented USA from losing slightly more pride but they will still be fighting for third place while Korea DPR move into their third U-20 WWC final.

Japan 1-2 France

As to be expected in a match between two teams from the last four, the meeting of Japan and France was incredibly close. Despite remaining goalless for a whole 90 minutes, the action all came in extra time as neither team could catch their break the first two halves.

For the entire game it seemed as though the game, they resumed with their usual attacking ways. Dynamically entering threatening positions to score goals from - precise crosses into the box, defence splitting passes and technical runs.

France were quite obviously playing the defensive game as that is where their strength mainly lies, mostly coordinated by the incredibly safe hands of Mylene Chavas. She started the game as she meant to go on, catching Japan top goal scorer Momiki Ueno's long ball with ease.

However, as Japan were increasingly frustrated by the resilience of the Les Bluettes and piled forward more troops they became victim to the strength of Delphine Cascarino on the wings. In exploiting the flanks, the Lyon youngster gave .

The hard work put in by Hawa Cissoko's backline eventually yielded dividends  as France were 2-0 up, scoring both goals within two minutes of each other. In the 99th minute a perfectly weighted cross from Marion Romanelli met the head of Clara Mateo, who was in the perfect angle to send the ball flying in between the posts.

Just moments later, to the delight of the 11,313 locals in attendance, Juliane Gathrat poached a loose ball and launched it right into the roof of the net. An unlikely mistake from the Nadeshiko, but well taken from the French.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, they were still prone to a Japan comeback which only came in the form of a penalty. Goalscorer Gathrat clattered into Ueno in the penalty box, denying a clear goal scoring opportunity. 

The victim of the foul stepped up to the mark firing, Chavas perfectly timed her jump and caught the ball with her legs, though it seeped through and onto the line. An unfortunate 90 degree turn pushed the ball slightly over the line and the goal was awarded to Japan - but that was the only response they had to the lead.

France will now move onto their first ever final in the competition while Japan face USA in a battle for the bronze.