A second-half goal from Lisa Dahlkvist steered Sweden to a 1-0 victory over North Korea and into the quarter-finals at the Women's World Cup on Saturday in Augsburg, Germany.
The young North Korean team, which had five teenagers in its starting lineup, wilted in the second half of its second loss in tw matches.
The United States joined the Swedes at the top of Group C — and qualified both teams for the last eight — by beating Colombia 3-0 in Sinsheim.
Sweden made the breakthrough in the 64th minute, when Linda Forsberg crossed into the middle and Therese Sjogran picked out the unmarked Dahlkvist for a simple finish from close range.
North Korea was unlucky not to equalize in the 73rd minute when Ri Un-hyang's header from a corner was cleared off the line by Sara Thunebro.
"Unfortunately, we really didn't convert the chances that we had," North Korea coach Kim Kwang-Min said.
However, only a lack of finishing by Sweden's tall strikers Lotta Schelin and Jessica Landstrom prevented their side from winning by a bigger margin.
"Anyway, for me, it doesn't matter. I am satisfied," coach Thomas Dennerby said. "Hopefully, we have lots of games left for the Swedish team, and they can create chances and score then."
For North Korea, it always was going to be a tough challenge. With midfielder Kim Su-Gyong as young as 16, it faced an experienced Swedish squad which also physically towered over them.
"They are very young and haven't got a lot of experience," coach Kim said. "In the second half they had much less energy. They also lacked concentration and we didn't convert the chances."
From the outset, Sweden took the game to North Korea and Schelin saw a shot in the second minute sail just wide.
The North Koreans, who had also held the United States to a goalless stalemate until the second half of their opener before losing 2-0, managed to keep a neat passing game going for an hour — but struggled to create any real chances.
The Swedes were more direct and had opportunities before halftime and just after the break, with Dahlkvist missing a clear chance on the counterattack. The North Koreans also survived a frantic goalmouth scramble in the 52nd minute, just two minutes before Dahlkvist broke the deadlock.
The only disappointment for Sweden came on the hour mark, when captain Caroline Seger was yellow-carded for a run-in with the referee and will miss the final group game against the United States.
For the North Koreans, the 2011 World Cup has been a valuable learning experience so far.
"They have learned a lot. In four years time, we will show a stronger team to the world," Kim said.