Korea Republic cruise past Football Ferns in penultimate Cup of Nations clash
Late strikes helped Korea Republic keep their Cup of Nations hopes alive with a comfortable 2-0 win over New Zealand in the penultimate Cup of Nations fixture at AAMI Park on Wednesday afternoon.
A sensational goal from Soyun Ji opened accounts after 74 minutes before Moon Mira made the result certain late in the fixture, leaving the Football Ferns with plenty to consider as the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup closes in.
A closely contested first half saw chances few and far between for both Korea Republic and the Kiwis.
New Zealand keeper Erin Nayler was forced into a smart save to her right from Minji Yeo after 10 minutes, her low shot fired in following a scramble in the penalty box.
Geummin Lee was unable to force her shot on goal under pressure from close range after Chaerin Han fired in a great cross from the left, and when Sarah Gregorius' night ended shortly after due to hamstring troubles, Tom Sermanni's side were well and truly under the pump.
Former Canberra United forward Emma Kete nearly reversed the Football Ferns' fortunes single-handedly as she ran in on goal in her 50th appearance for her country, but her attempt was saved by Jung Mi Kim.
The second half continued to see much of the match unfold in the middle of the park.
The first real chance of the half came when Kiwi defender Rebekah Stott made a marauding run forward, opening up the field for Paige Satchell to send in a cross that Aimee Phillips was unable to bundle home.
The deadlock finally broke with 16 minutes remaining in the match. With the ball at her feet 25 yards out, Soyun Ji feinted twice to school Stott before blazing the shot into the top left corner.
New Zealand rarely threatened after the goal and Korea Republic doubled their advantage in the 87th minute to all but wrap up proceedings.
After Hwayeon Son's initial shot forced a brilliant save from Nayler, Moon Mira was fastest to the ball to bundle it home past the keeper.