South Korea’s U20 national team, led by head coach Kim Eun-joong, started the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup on a high note by beating powerhouse France.
Goals from Lee Seung-won and Lee Young-joon gave South Korea a 2-1 victory over France in their U20 World Cup Group F opener at the Mendoza Stadium in Mendoza, Argentina, on Wednesday (June 23).
South Korea advanced to the round of 16 for the third consecutive year by winning its first match against France, which is considered one of the favorites in Group F.
South Korea reached the round of 16 at the 2017 tournament on home soil and finished runner-up at the 2019 tournament in Poland. The 2021 tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 24 teams will compete in the tournament, organized into six groups of four teams, with the 12 first- and second-place finishers in each group and the four best third-place finishers advancing to the tournament. South Korea will play Honduras in the second round on Sept. 26 and Gambia in the final group game on Sept. 29.
South Korea focused on defense and tried to find a goal on the counterattack. After calmly holding off the French attack in the early stages of the match, South Korea slowly opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Lee Young-joon scored a surprise right-footed mid-range shot.
Looking to capitalize on their chances, South Korea took the lead in the 22nd minute on a counterattack.
After a French corner kick was cleared, South Korea quickly went on the attack. Kim Yong-hak beat one defender before crossing to Lee Seung-won, who was charging down the other side. Finding himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, Lee calmly finished with a right-footed shot.
Gaining confidence from the goal, South Korea tried to add to their lead by utilizing dribbling attacks from Kang Sung-jin and Kim Yong-hak on the flanks, but their final shots went wide of the goal and the game went into halftime with a one-goal lead.
Korea struggled with France’s offense at the start of the second half as they raised their attacking line high. However, goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong made a series of saves to prevent a goal.
Coach Kim Eun-joong made a change to his side in the 14th minute of the second half, taking off fullback Bae Seo-joon and winger Kim Yong-hak and bringing on Hwang In-taek and Lee Ji-han.
Kim’s substitutions paid off, as South Korea added a second goal in the 19th minute.
Lee Ji-han won a free kick as he broke down the left flank, and Lee Seung-won sent in a sharp cross with his right foot. Lee Young-joon headed it into the back of the net, rattling the French goal.
With the momentum going their way, Korea was awarded a penalty kick in the 24th minute. The referee ruled that Kim Jun-hong committed a foul when he collided with an opposing striker during a contest for an aerial ball in front of the Korean goal and awarded France a penalty kick.
Alan Birginius stepped up to the plate and completely fooled goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong, scoring to give France a one-goal lead.
South Korea struggled with the French offense from then on, but Kim Jun-hong was able to make saves at crucial moments to secure the win without conceding any more goals.스포츠토토
In the other Group F match at the same stadium, the Gambia defeated Honduras 2-1.
The Gambia took the lead with a goal from Adama Bojang in the first minute of play, but gave up an equalizer four minutes later.
Both teams then turned up the pressure in search of their first win, but Bozang’s second goal in the 39th minute put the Gambia back in front.
The Gambia conceded a goal in the 43rd minute, but a video review ruled the goal offside, giving them a one-goal victory.