Martina Rosucci scored with the last kick of the game to seal all three points for Italy, as they triumphed 2-1 over South Korea.
Arianna Caruso headed the Italians in front with just six minutes on the clock, but Ji’s pinpoint curling effort after the hour mark had the game level, only for Rosucci’s controversial goal at the end to take all three points back to Italy.
From the off, the attacking intent of Milena Bertolini’s side was clear to see. The wingbacks were being pushed far up the field, often meaning their formation looked more like a four-pronged attack rather than a five at the back defence.
Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that they found their opener six minutes into the contest. Annamaria Serturini made good headway down the left flank, before her cross took a deflection off a Korean defender.
Unofunately for Colin Bell’s side, the deflection looped all the way to the back post, where Arianna Caruso was lurking. She leapt higher than her opponent and nodded the Azzurre in front.
Although their attacking start was admirable, the Italian charge began to fade, and perhaps it was no coincidence that it coincided with the heavy rainfall at Ashton Gate.
The Italians did work their way into a strong position, but were aided by slack South Korean defending. The Taugeuk Ladies couldn’t clear the lines, allowing a flurry of Italian legs swinging to try and put the ball in the back of the net, but none of them could find the key finish.
As the sides went into half time, it was clear Italy were on top, but how would South Korea respond in the second half?
Like the first half, the Koreans began the second half penned in and unable to go out and test the Italian back line.
Instead, it was Italy who were again doing more of the probing. Valentina Giacinti sending a low cross into Martina Lenzini, but her curling effort was headed away from danger expertly by Korean captain Hyeri Kim.
The arrival of the infamous Korean drums came just after the hour mark, and they were clearly the lucky charm that this Korean side needed, as they equalised shortly after.
Some poor passing between Rachele Baldi and Valentina Bergamaschi allowed Hwayeon Son to rob them of possession. Son then laid it off to veteran midfielder Soyun Ji, who curled a low effort into the bottom corner. It was game on at Ashton Gate!
If either team was going to win this game, it would require someone in a blue or black shirt to produce a moment of magic, but that moment wasn’t forthcoming.
The period after the Ji goal was quiet, with neither side creating anything of note going into the last ten minutes.
Hyojoo Choo came the closest with a piledriving effort from inside the box, but substitute Martina Rosucci put her body on the line superbly to deny a second Korean goal.
It was the Koreans who were looking more likely to score. Geummin Lee went had an effort after more great work down the wing from Son, but she couldn’t keep her effort down.
It was looking like the points would be shared, only for Rosucci to win it in stoppage time. A cross from Benedetta Orsi found the number eight, who certainly looked in an offside position when she received the ball, but she poked the ball home to send the Italian bench into a state of delirium.
The Koreans protested profusely, shouting at the referee to look at the big screen to disallow the goal for offside, but the Brazilian referee wasn’t interested, and instead ended the game on a controversial note.
If the game had ended in a draw, most people would call it a fair result, but Italy will be delighted to end their campaign with a win. For South Korea, it’s three losses from three games.