Goals by So Hyun Uk and Pak Kwang Ryong were enough to see DPR Korea past Guam on Wednesday evening in the second matchday of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2017 Round 2 Men’s tournament.
Coming off their 2-0 win against Chinese Taipei in the tournament opener, the AFC Asian Cup 2015 participants were forced to make do without manager Jorn Andersen, whose ejection from that match for arguing with an official led to a touchline ban.
His men were frustrated throughout the first half by Guam, whose defending showed marked improvement from their 3-2 loss to Hong Kong. Goalkeeper Douglas Herrick was caught off his line far less frequently, and even in tight situations he was frequently rescued by defenders Alexander Lee and Brandon McDonald.
The Matao quickly earned the favor of the neutral crowd, who cheered every clearance and even booed DPR Korea’s players as they moved the ball up the pitch. Their support seemed to have little effect on Guam’s offensive production, and despite a brief spell of pressure in added time the teams would head into the halftime locker room in a nil-nil deadlock.
DPR Korea continued to pressure when play resumed in the second half, and So Hyun Uk broke the game open in the 67th minute with a tremendous volley from close range to put his team ahead 1-0.
That goal seemed to take a bit of fight out of Guam, who continued to hold strong defensively but remained unable to put any solid pressure on the DPR Korea goal despite the best efforts of Guy and Shayne Malcom’s long throw-ins which got the crowd roaring.
Striker Pak Kwang Ryong put the game away in the 87th minute with a stunning free kick from just outside the Guam penalty area, bringing his team even closer to the final tournament in Japan next December.