Paraguay edges North Korea in friendly

Roque Santa Cruz converted a late penalty to give Paraguay a 1-0 win against North Korea in a warm-up match for the World Cup.

Roque Santa Cruz converted a late penalty to give Paraguay a 1-0 win against North Korea in the teams' first World Cup warm-up match Saturday in Switzerland.

Santa Cruz struck his spot kick high to the left of goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk in the 86th minute, after substitute Nam Song Chol was judged to have handled the ball.

"I think it was very strict of the referee giving that penalty," Santa Cruz said. "It's not a situation where you usually get a handball."

Paraguay had hit a post twice in a seven-minute spell midway through the second half after the Koreans impressed in the first period.

North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun did not attend a post-match press conference, and the team bus soon left the tiny Stade Colovray stadium.

Choe Kum Chol had North Korea's best chance in the 35th but lifted his shot over the bar.

Santa Cruz said the North Koreans, who lined up with a five-man defensive line, were a good test for Paraguay which will be expected to take the attacking initiative in World Cup games against Slovakia and New Zealand.

"It's very tough when you get a team like that and I think North Korea is one of those teams," he said. "[Our squad] have just met now and we're trying to find a rhythm. It was a very useful game for the manager."

North Korea soon showed it could break quickly by passing neatly.

Mun In Guk's cross created confusion in the Paraguay penalty area in the eight minute, but Ji Yun Nam took too long to shoot and his effort was charged down.

Paraguay came close in the 25th minute with a 30-metre shot by Aureliano Torres that tall Korean keeper Ri tipped over.

North Korea had a clear chance 10 minutes later, created on a deft pass by captain Hong Yong Jo, its only Europe-based player, with Russian club Rostov. Choe Kum Chol chipped his shot over onrushing goalkeeper Diego Barreto, but also cleared the bar.

Paraguay played a more expansive game after the break and twice struck the post.

In the 60th minute, Marcelo Estigarribia's left-foot drive struck the outside of the post after he was played in by Enrique Vera. Seven minutes later, Eduardo Ledesma beat Ri's dive with a cross shot on the run, but the ball clipped the frame of the goal.

Paraguay got the goal it deserved after Swiss referee Carlo Bertolini pointed to the spot, penalizing Chol for a handball with no attacker nearby.

North Korea was without Japan-based pair An Yong Hak and Jong Tae Se, who were not with the squad.

Paraguay next plays Ireland in Dublin on May 25. On the same day, North Korea faces Greece in Austria.

At the World Cup, Paraguay will face defending champion Italy, Slovakia and New Zealand in Group F.

North Korea has a tough draw with Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal in Group G.