Korea Republic edge rivals Japan to reach FIFA U-20 World Cup quarters

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Korea Republic are through to the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup quarter-finals after claiming a 1-0 win over Japan in a dramatic Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

In an evenly-contested clash at the Lublin Stadium, both sides had their fair share of chances before the deadlock was finally broken in the 84th minute when Oh Se-hun nodded home what proved to be the winner.

The result means that the South Koreans are now Asia’s last remaining challengers at the tournament, and they will next meet Senegal in the quarters on Saturday.

While one goal decided it in the end, both sides deserve plenty of credit for serving up quite the thriller.

The contest did get off to a tentative start with neither team willing to take too much of a risk, and the only real chance of the first half saw Valencia starlet Lee Kang-in curl a lovely 25-yard freekick just wide of the Japan goal.

Four minutes after the restart, Jun Nishikawa came close as he met Yuta Goke’s searching ball at the back post with a cushioned volley that forced Lee Gwang-yeon into a parry, but none of his Japan team-mates were on hand to pounce.

Photo credit: FIFA

A minute later, it looked as though the Samurai Blue had opened the scoring when their opponents failed to clear their lines and – after Taisei Miyashiro’s speculative had been initially been saved – Goke clinically fired home the rebound.

However, the strike was correctly ruled out following consultation with the Video Assistant Referee for an offside call in the build-up.

Japan continued to create the more clear-cut chances and Lee Gwang-yeon did well to keep out a header from Keito Nakamura, before Yuki Kobayashi climbed high to meet a Toichi Suzuki corner but could only nod wide.

Miyashiro then looked certain to put the Japanese in front when he picked up possession inside the area and fired away a snapshot that had the opposition goalkeeper beaten, only to see it come back off the foot of the post.

But, just when it looked like extra-time was beckoning, the South Koreans broke forward and – from the left wing – Choi Jun swung in a dangerous cross that was met by Oh with a perfectly-guided glancing header into the bottom corner for the winner.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, United States came from behind to beat France 3-2 in another enthralling encounter, while Mali beat Argentina 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra-time.

JAPAN U-20: Tomoya Wakahara, Yukinari Sugawara, Ayumu Seko, Yuki Kobayashi, Toichi Suzuki (Taichi Hara 88’), Kanya Fujimoto (Shunki Higashi 88’), Mitsuki Saito, Jun Nishikawa, Yuta Goke (Keito Nakamura 68’), Kota Yamada, Taisei Miyashiro.

KOREA REPUBLIC U-20: Lee Gwang-yeon, Hwang Tae-hyeon, Lee Ji-sol (Um Won-sang 46’), Kim Hyun-woo, Lee Jae-ik, Choi Jun, Jeong Ho-jin, Kim Jung-min (Ko Jae-hyeon 87’), Cho Young-wook (Jeon Se-jin 63’), Lee Kang-in, Oh Se-hun.

Photo credit: FIFA