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North Korea AFC Youth champs

November 12, 2006 23:21 IST

North Korea overcame Japan 5-3 via the tie-breaker to lift the AFC Youth Championship for the second time after a breathtaking final in Kolkata on Sunday night.

North Korean custodian Ju Kwang Min dived to his left to save a grass-cutting penalty from Tsukasa Umesaki and gave his side a decisive early lead in the shoot-out that had to be resorted to after the teams finished 1-1 at regulation time and failed to break the deadlock during half-an-hour of extra-time.

With all the other penalty shooters finding the mark, Umesaki's miss sounded Japan's death knell and they have now failed to annex the coveted title despite half a dozen appearances in the final.

Choe Myong Ho, Jun Kwang, Ri Kwang Hyok, Jong Chol Min and Ri Chol Myong found the target for North Korea, while Mike Havenaar, Sho Ito and Tanaka Atomu were the scorers for Japan in the tie-break.

Earlier, the fleet-footed North Koreans went into the lead as early as the fourth minute through a gem of a goal from Ri Chol Myong at the floodlit Salt Lake stadium.

Receiving the ball near the centre circle, Myong let fly a 37-yard pile driver that swung and dipped at the right time to beat Japanese goalkeeper Hayashi Akihiro all ends up.

Japan, having the better of the exchanges, drew parity in the 34th minute as 19-year-old Yosuke Kashiwagi capped a class solo with a lethal finish.

Fed by an overlapping right back Atsudo Uchida, Kashiwagi displayed brilliant footwork to dribble past a couple of North Korean defenders and then cracked a left footer from top of the box that rocketed into the near corner of the goal to the left of a diving Korean custodian Ju Kwang Min.

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