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Asian Games: Japan hold off S. Korea, advance to women's soccer final

Japan players celebrate after defeating South Korea in a women's football semifinal at the Asian Games in Palembang on Aug. 28, 2018. (Kyodo)

PALEMBANG, Indonesia (Kyodo) -- Japan booked a spot in the Asian Games women's soccer tournament final against China by beating long-time rivals South Korea 2-1 on Tuesday.

China, looking for their first women's gold medal since 1998, beat Taiwan 1-0 in the late semifinal.

An 86th-minute own goal by South Korean defender Lim Seon Joo proved costly, breaking a 1-1 tie in the rain at Gelora Sriwijaya stadium in Palembang.

Yuika Sugasawa opened the scoring for Japan in the fifth minute. But Japan were then put on the back foot by South Korea's attack.

"I had great timing, and I was able to see the moves of the keeper," Sugasawa said. "All I had in mind was winning the match. I want to play Japan's style of soccer."

South Koreans played their style of aggressive soccer centered on forward Ji So Yun, but were not able to convert chances throughout the match. They only managed to equalize in the 68th minute, when Lee Min A headed in a cross from substitute Moon Mi Ra.

In the 32nd minute, Lee Geum Min took the ball and sprinted in front of the goal, only for Japan keeper Ayaka Yamashita to make the save.

"I imagined today's match will be a tough one even before it began," said Japan head coach Asako Takakura. "We were able to get the first goal early in the game, but I got the impression we were pushed back by Korea's offense."

"We tried to adjust but we struggled until the end and were on the back foot most of the time," she said.

Japan beat North Korea in the quarterfinal to advance to the semifinals.

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