The semi-finalists of the U-20 Women's World Cup have been decided in some suprising results from the quarter-final ties. The quality of the matches has improved as the teams have been whittled down to the elite.
Korea DPR 3-2 Spain (A.E.T)
In the only game that went into extra time, Korea DPR broke the hearts of Spain in the 104th minute. With only 15 minutes left, Spain were left luckless and with their return flights booked onto the next plane home-bound.
The scoring in the five-goal thriller was opened up by a slick header from Ju Hyo Sim, who lost her marker with a pacey run the second the corner kick was sent into the air. The Asian side demonstrated to Spain the advantage of having more experience in the tournament by scoring another on the half an hour mark.
Jon So Yon sent a free kick hurtling into the the penalty area, with the Spanish defence unable to clear it it bounced straight into the path of Ri Hyang Sim who, despite Maria Quinones' bold effort to come out of goal, lobbed it straight past her and over of the line.
Spain were not disheartened and more than ready for the challenge, taking one away from DPR's lead eight minutes later. Patricia Guijarro’s incredibly strong shot was saved by Kim Myong Sun but they weren't to worry as Nahikari Garcia netted the rebound. The midfielder smashed it into the net from close range, well beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.
The game went into the second half as 2-1 and Spain had a new wave of confidence. This paid off in the second half as with only 20 minutes left, Spain restored parity as Sun failed to hold onto the ball again and Lucia Garcia punished her with another unforgiving strike.
It was not until extra time that Kim Phyong Hwa delivered the final blow and knocked Spain out with a curling effort from outside the box, that dipped under Quinones. Spain could not find a reply to keep their PNG hopes alive.
Japan 3-1 Brazil
The most clearly divided game in terms of quality was exposed when Japan emphatically defeated Brazil. The combination of Japan's talent, tactics and hunger left Brazil heading out of the competition.
Goals did not come flooding in at the beginning of the game but Japan did have the better of the chances throughout the game. The first came in the additional time via Miyabi Moriya's tap in which was always going to be detrimental to the mindset of Brazil coming out into the second half.
In the second half, Japan turned up the pressure on their opponents, not satisfied with one goal, Shiho Matsubara doubled the lead with another team goal. Goalscorer Moriya found plenty of space down the wing, able to advance into the box unmarked before unselfishly handing the ball to Matsubara whose momentum from the run was enough to take the ball over the line.
Tension and frustration from Brazil showed as five players picked up yellow cards.
USA 2-1 Mexico
Everything was set up for this game to be an exciting draw. The history behind the fixture, one team being sente and above all, the Flores twins playing in the same match, for different nations. In the end it was the USA that clinched the game in the very last minute.
The first half was shaky from both teams with both failing to get into the swing of things. Mexico were edging it in terms of the statsitics, having more shots on target in addition to promising moves forward.
However, the excitement came in the second half as both teams started to find their footing. Mexico yet again starting stronger, and as predicted Maria Sanchez was commanding her team.
The inevitable happened and Sanchez finally opened the scoring. The midfielder took a fantastic freekick which swerved around the wall and into the palms of Casey Murphy, but the keeper could not contain the speed of the shot.
Mexico almost doubled their lead via Jacqueline Crowther but she was unable to connect with ball, sending it flying above the bar.
With the pace moving in favour of Mexico, it seemed as though they could shut out their rivals. However, the Stars and Stripes were about to change the whole course of the game. With only ten minutes to go Mallory Pugh split the entire defence with a single pass, Ally Watt was there to meet the ball with a single touch, sending it into the back of the net.
It seemed as though there would be an extra 30 minutes of play with the scoreline level, but instead in the third minute of injury time Kelcie Hedge became the hero of her team.
Ashley Sanchez's clever run broke down the Mexican defence, a clever and unselfish dummy from Pugh put the ball straight into the path of Hedge who finished it with power, coolly. The squad erupted into celebrations.
Germany 0-1 France
The most shocking outcome of the quarter finals came in the tie between the European teams. Holders from 2014 Germany are officially out of the tournament as Delphine Cascarino's early goal was the only thing to separate the sides.
As expected, the match was played at an incredibly high pace, real end to end stuff with two well equipped midfields. However on this occassion it was France that looked the side with more attacking prowess.
Germany could have taken the lead early but bold goalkeeping from Mylene Chavas kept the talented attacking forces at bay, this would be a prominent theme throughout the game which kept the scoreline to the advantage of her team. Her performance even led to the Player of the Match award.
Just 16 minutes into the match, Cascarino scored the first and only goal of the game. The midfielder played a corner short and after recieving the ball back, niftily moved around the defence and struck an unsavable shot from a near impossible angle.
Even when Germany put the pressure on the less experienced side, the backline remaind resilient, especially as their performance was conducted by Chavas.
Dina Orschmann went close nearing the end of the match, which would have took the game into extra time, but again Chavas was France's hero. As a reward, they will face a new kind of challenge when they take on Japan.