Northern Ireland put their World Cup disappointment behind them as they came from a goal down to beat South Korea 2-1 in a friendly at Windsor Park on Saturday.
- Northern Ireland 2 South Korea 1
- Kwon gives Reds an early lead
- Ward hits back for Norn Iron
- Carson denies Park in second half
- Smyth secures comeback win late on
Michael O’Neill’s side went behind as early as the seventh minute in Belfast when Kwon Chang-hoon opened the scoring for the Reds, who were pegged back 13 minutes later by Kim Min-jae’s own-goal.
Norn Iron then completed the comeback four minutes from time as Paul Smyth capped off his debut with a late winner.
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) March 24, 2018
Northern Ireland had qualified for the World Cup playoffs, but they were knocked out by Denmark at the final hurdle, and things got off to a bad start against the Asian giants.
Kwon displayed a good first touch to bring Park Joo-ho’s aerial pass under control and advance into the box before slotting past Trevor Carson in the home goal on seven minutes.
Jamie Ward thought he had levelled matters six minutes later when Kim Seung-gyu parried Josh Magennis’ shot into his path, but the offside flag cut short the celebrations.
The hosts scored a legitimate equaliser on 20 minutes, however, as a training-ground routine paid dividends. South Korea expected George Saville to shoot at goal from a free-kick, but instead, the ball was played to Ward in space and the winger’s low cross was diverted into the goal by Kim.
The remainder of the first half passed without incident as the two teams went into the break all-square at 1-1. The second half got off to a frenetic start as both nations missed the chance to go in front early on.
Magennis wasted a gilt-edged opportunity shortly after the restart when he lifted the ball over the crossbar from close range, while at the other end Lee Jae-sung fired just wide of the target after connecting with Lee Yong-Joon’s cross.
Carson had to be alert in the 58th minute as he pulled off a fine save to keep out Park’s deflected strike from the edge of the box before the visitors went close again six minutes later when Lee Jae-sung’s effort was diverted just wide of the goal.
Norn Iron weathered the storm and looked to be heading for a credible draw, but Smyth had other ideas as the second-half substitute made an immediate impact by collecting Conor Washington’s flick-on and beating Kim with a low shot into the bottom corner of the net with four minutes left on the clock.