South Korea 0-1 Morocco: Jraïdi bags early goal for Morocco

With both of these sides having lost their opening games, Sunday’s fixture provided a great opportunity to register their first points ahead of Germany’s clash with Colombia later in the day. South Korea had suffered a 2-0 defeat to Colombia in their first match, while Morocco were on the wrong end of a 6-0 thrashing by Germany.

KOR: Kim Jung-Mi; Shim Seo-Yeon, Hong Hye-Ji, Kim Hye-Ri; Jang Sel-Gi, Cho So-Hyun, Ji So-Yun, Lee Geum-Min, Choo Hyo-Joo; Park Eun-Sun, Son Hwa-Yeon

MAR: Er-Rmichi; Redouani, Benzina, El Chad, Aït El Haj; Tagnaout, Chebbak, Nakkach, Ouzraoui; Amani, Jraïdi

Morocco’s wait for an opener lasted just six minutes, as Ibtissam Jraïdi found the crucial goal in the opening exchanges. Ouzraoui’s work on the right flank created space for Aït El Haj to deliver a cross, which the forward was able to nod across the face of goal and beautifully into the bottom corner – and the Atlas Lionesses had responded to their six-goal drubbing perfectly.

But with the knowledge that a loss in Adelaide could put the round-of-sixteen out of their grasps depending on the result of Germany’s match against Colombia, the South Koreans looked to crumble defensively – almost netting an own goal as Hong Hye-Ji miscued her defensive header. As it looped over the ‘keeper, a palpable sense of concern was felt across the ground, though the danger was swiftly averted as the ball settled on the roof of the net.

Yet with just under twenty minutes on the clock, there seemed to be somewhat of a wake-up call for South Korea. A long ball forward into the penalty area fell perfectly for Cho So-Hyun, who selflessly opted to tee up Lee Geum-Min – though a great block from Chebbak ensured Morocco’s lead would stand a little while longer.

The chances kept coming for the Koreans, who squandered a golden opportunity after twenty minutes as Choo Hyo-Joo’s flick-on was misdirected by Son Hwa-Yeon. The ball flew wide of the post again minutes later, as Park Eun-Sun’s headed effort was placed mere inches wide of the target.

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Keen to add to their advantage and build somewhat of a buffer, Tagnaout jinked past three defenders with a deadly through ball to create space for Amani – but from close range, the forward blazed her effort over the bar to ensure the scoreline remained at just the one goal.

Yet while this frenetic first half had seen plenty of chances for both sides, it was Jraïdi’s solitary goal that kept Morocco in a historic lead at the interval. In a bid to further extend that lead, Redouani forced a save from Kim Jung-Mi after darting infield and unleashing a low drive. Chebbak’s corner delivery looked to fall perfectly to Benzina – her effort was sliced over the woodwork.

Another opportunity for South Korea saw Cho So-Hyun look to glance Ji So-Yun’s delivery towards goal at the far post – but the Tottenham midfielder was only able to send her header a yard or two wide of the post from close range.

The Koreans came to life once more in the opening stages, as Jeon Eun-Ha found Casey Phair with a beautiful cut-back pass from the byline. The sixteen-year-old looked to drive a low effort towards the bottom corner, but her strike fizzled wide of the far post to deny Colin Bell’s side a late equaliser.

A loss for South Korea means that their 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign could come to an end later on Sunday, if Colombia are able to hold Germany to a draw in Sydney. Morocco’s hopes are still alive, as they face Colombia on the final matchday.