ABDOULIE BAH / AIPS Young Reporter* / BAKU: France made history by dethroning North Korea 7-6 on penalties after a 1-1 draw here in the Tofiq Bahramov stadium to claim their first FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
The Bleuettes thus became the first European winners of the cup in its third ‘edition’.
As in their semi-final victory over Ghana, France began in positive fashion and controlled the early exchanges with half-chances falling to, and being wasted by, Lea Declercq and striker Kadidiatou Diani.
Romane Bruneau in the French goal had no genuine save to make in the first halfhour before, three minutes later, the deadlock was broken when Lea DeClercq shot home after capitalising on a brilliant long through ball.
The impressive defensive partnership of Aissatou Tounkara and Mbock Bathy were outstanding to preserve France’s lead going into the interval to the frustration of Korean top scorer Ri Un-Sim.
The Koreans raised the pace of their own game after the interval. Kim Phyong shot too high before coach Yong Bong Hwan brought on two substitute midfielders to bolster his attack.
In the 63rd minute forward Ri Hyang Sim hit the bar then, with 12 minutes remaining, another effot ricocheted off the bar and Ri Um-Sim scored her eighth goal of the finals from close range.
Both teams went close before the final whistle sent the game to a shootout which was decided by keeper Bruneau’s decisive last save from luckless Ri Un-Yong.
Earlier, in the third-place play-off, Ghanabeat Germany1-0 despite playing much of the match after 10 players after the expulsion of Fatima Alhassan in the 32nd minute for two yellow crowds. Priscilla Okyere scored the winning goal six minutes later.
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** AIPS, the international sports media association, has been running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup with the co-operation of FIFA and supported by the Azeri Ministry of Youth & Sport
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