Kim Jung-ho did it–U-20s beat France 2-1 in first game of World Cup
Kim Eun-Joong hopes to repeat his 2019 glory, and he got a pleasant surprise in his first game – a win over global powerhouse France.
Led by a goal and an assist from captain Lee Seung-won (Gangwon), the South Korea Under-20 team defeated France 2-1 in their first match of Group F of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Mendoza Stadium in Argentina on Wednesday. It’s been six years since South Korea won their first group game at the U-20 World Cup, a 3-0 victory over Guinea in 2017.
The victory over France, the top-ranked team in Group F, gave them the green light to advance to the round of 16. A total of 24 teams competed in the tournament, which was organized into six groups of four, with the 12 best-placed teams in each group and the four best third-place finishers advancing to the knockout stages. South Korea reached the round of 16 at its home tournament in 2017 and finished runner-up in Poland in 2019.
South Korea came into the game with a costly counterattack strategy against France, who had the advantage in strength. Despite a strong French offense in the early stages of the match, Korea managed to keep the game tightly contested, scoring the first goal in the 22nd minute. After clearing a French corner kick, Korea quickly transitioned to a counterattack, with Kim Yong-hak (Portimonense) beating one defender before passing to Lee Seung-won, who was charging down the other side. Lee was one-on-one with the keeper and calmly finished with a right-footed shot.
With the score at 1-0, South Korea was shaken by the French offense in the second half. However, 안전놀이터 goalkeeper Kim Jun-hong (Gimcheon) made a series of brilliant saves to preserve the lead. In the 14th minute of the second half, Kim introduced Hwang In-taek (Eland) and Lee Ji-han (Freiburg) in an attempt to turn the tide, and it worked. In the 19th minute, Lee Ji-han broke down the left flank and sent a free kick into the box that Lee Seung-won, who was fouled by an opponent, headed home with a slight change of direction.
The Koreans continued to enjoy the momentum and were awarded a penalty kick in the 24th minute. In a contest in front of the Korean goal, Kim Jun-hong collided with an opposing striker, and the referee called for a foul on Kim Jun-hong, awarding France a penalty kick, which Alain Birginius (Lille) converted.
From then on, the game was a one-sided affair with France attacking and Korea countering with a physical defense. However, even the sharp French attacks were unable to break through the Korean defense, and Kim Jun-hong continued to make saves to keep Korea in the lead. Even with eight minutes of extra time, Korea held on and eventually secured the win.