Korea beat the Philippines to reach first Asian Cup final
Korea beat the Philippines 2-0 in the semifinals of the Women's Asia Cup at Siric Chatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India on Thursday, earning a spot in the continental tournament final for the first time.
Korea controlled the game from the whistle and were quick to capitalize — barely three minutes had passed before Cho So-hyun opened the scoring, heading a well-placed corner by Kim Hye-ri past the goalkeeper at the back post.
After that early goal, the game seemed to even out a bit. The Philippines struggled to get past Korea's defense, but were able to fire off some serious attempts in the 24th and 33rd minutes, just missing both the goal on both occassions.
Korea found a chance to add on to that early lead in the 34th minute, with Choo Hyo-joo breaking through on the right side and placing a cross to Son Hwa-yeon, who pushed the ball into the net, taking the score to 2-0. Neither team was able to add anything more until the whistle blew for the first half.
The second half was fairly uneventful. Korea continued to control the game with 75 percent of the overall possession, but the Tageuk Ladies were unable to extend their lead further and 90 minutes ended with Korea still leading 2-0.
With the win, Korea will now advance to the Asian Cup finals for the first time, where they will face either Japan, now the highest-ranked team left in the competition, or China. The two sides will play each other in the second semifinal later on Thursday night.
En route to the semifinal, Korea knocked out tournament favorites Australia in the quarterfinals last week, beating the Matildas 1-0 after an impressive late goal from Ji So-yun.
Korea are undefeated in the tournament so far, but finished second in their group on goal difference. Japan topped that group, and the two sides tied their group stage game 1-1 on Jan. 27.
Regardless of who wins the second semifinal, the final on Sunday promises to be a tough game. With Japan ranked at No. 13 in the world, Korea at No. 18 and China at No. 19, the final is likely to be extremely competitive.
Korea are chasing their first Asian Cup victory ever, having previously failed to reach the finals. The Taeguk Ladies have advanced to the semifinals four times — in 1995, 2001, 2003 and 2014 — the most of any team that has never won the tournament. Their best performance was finishing third in 2003.
Korea will face either Japan or China in the final of the 2022 Women's Asian Cup at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Sunday at 4.30 p.m., or 8 p.m. in Korea.
BY JIM BULLEY AND YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]