Nanjing: Ri Kyong-hyang's 90th minute header finally broke Australia's stubborn resistance and earned DPR Korea a 1-0 win at the AFC U-16 Women's Championship on Monday.
Australia goalkeeper Eliza Campbell produced a string of outstanding saves to keep her side in the game at the Jiangning Sports Center but she was finally beaten in the dying seconds as DPR Korea made it six points from three games to remain on course for a top-three finish in the six-team tournament and a place at next year's FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.
DPR Korea, impressive 4-0 winners over Korea Republic last time out, dominated possession and chances.
But they simply could not find a way through as Campbell, one of several changes from the team which lost to China 3-0 last time out, more than justified her inclusion with a fine display.
DPR Korea made the early running and Kim Un-hwa's left-footed shot from the left edge of the area struck the base of the far post and the ball fell kindly for the Australia defence who were able to clear.
Kim Phyong-hwa then raced clear but, as Campbell came out to narrow the angle, she could only shoot into the side-netting. Elizabeth Ralston then denied Kim with a superbly-timed tackle.
Ri Un-sim had a shot saved by Campbell before passing up a great chance, failing to get a strong enough contact on a ball across the face of goal when just yards from the line.
The same player glanced a header wide as DPR Korea started the second-half on the front foot and Campbell then rushed off her line and bravely dived at the striker's feet to block her shot.
DPR Korea were growing increasingly frustrated at their failure to find a way past an Australia side who had conceded seven goals in their opening two games.
Campbell then stood up to beat away a Ri Kyong-hyang shot after she had cut into the area and managed a clear sight of goal.
Australia were defending as if their lives depended on it as they blocked or cleared cross after cross.
They were again indebted to Campbell, though, as she pushed away Ri Hyang-sim's effort when the attacker was through on goal.
Things were getting desperate for Hwang Yong-bong's side and they threw players forward in search of a breakthrough.
Ri Hyang-sim had another chance but fired wide of the far post, while Campbell beat away another shot as Australia, who rode their luck at times, looked set to hold on for a hard-earned point.
But DPR Korea eventually made the breakthrough as Ri Kyong-hyang beat Campbell by sending a header into the roof of the net.
Hwang relief as Ri rescues Koreans
Nanjing: DPR Korea coach Hwang Yong-bong admitted his players almost paid for their lack of composure after they needed a last-minute goal to see off Australia 1-0 in the AFC U-16 Women's Championship.
Australia goalkeeper Eliza Campbell kept Hwang's side at bay almost single-handedly at times before Ri Kyong-hyang's header in the dying minutes settled the game at the Jiangning Sports Centre.
Campbell, one of several changes from the team which lost to China 3-0, produced a string of outstanding saves as chance after chance came and went for DPR Korea.
"I feel very relieved," Hwang said.
"The players are young and were too excited, rushing everything when they tried to score. That was the main reason why we could not take our chances.
"I kept on encouraging them, telling them they've done well and the chances would keep coming, but they had to be patient."
The win was DPR Korea's second of the tournament and kept them three points behind Japan, who lead the six-team table.
"This match was another very important match for us because we had to win to keep alive our hopes of winning the title," Hwang added.
"But I was quite worried to see the players were not patient enough to score their chances.
"I feel satisfied with today's result. It was not a very good performance but we still managed to win in the end and that's the important thing."
Keeper Campbell was helped by some tireless last-ditch defending with Australia also riding their luck at times.
"The Australian goalkeeper was very lucky and very good," Hwang added.
Australia coach Victoria Linton felt her side did enough to warrant a draw and also had words of praise for player-of-the-match Campbell.
"Although they had many shots and we were under a lot of pressure, I think we probably earned a point out of that," she said.
"It is disappointing to concede with 30 seconds to go.
"Our goalkeeper had an excellent game and I'm really proud of the girls' effort. We are really lucky to have three really good keepers. They've all got different strengths and I just thought that Eliza would be the right fit for this match.
"She's a little bit unorthodox but she certainly does the job. She has no fear. She comes out really well and stays big, which she showed. Her extra height and the length in her arms assisted her as well."
Australia have now lost their opening three matches, but Linton has seen real improvement in her side.
"Our goal here is to improve every half and I think we've demonstrated that," she added.
"That's a fantastic performance against a well-drilled experienced team so really pleased."