Kim Eun-Joong-ho led South Korea to the quarterfinals of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Under-20 World Cup 2023 with a win over Ecuador. This marks the second consecutive quarterfinal appearance for the South Korean team after the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland.
Led by head coach Kim Eun-joong, the South Korean U-20 soccer team defeated Ecuador 3-2 behind goals from Lee Young-joon (Gimcheon Commerce), Bae Jun-ho (Daejeon Hana Citizens), and Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University) in the U-20 World Cup Round of 16 at the Santiago del Estero Stadium in Argentina on Sunday (June 2). South Korea made history by reaching the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup for the second consecutive time. They are also the only Asian team to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament.
South Korea started with Lee Young-joon up front and Bae Jun-ho and Kim Yong-hak (Portimonense SC) on the left and right wings. Lee Seung-won (Gangwon FC), Kang Sang-yoon (Jeonbuk Hyundai), and Park Hyun-bin (Incheon United) were in the midfield, while Park Chang-woo (Jeonbuk), Kim Ji-su (Seongnam FC), Choi Seok-hyun, and Choi Ye-hoon (Busan I-Park) were in the back four. Kim Jun-hong (Gimcheon) wore the goalkeeping gloves.
South Korea opened the scoring in the 11th minute, as Bae Joon-ho sent in a cross from the left flank that was chested down by Lee Young-joon on the right side of the penalty area, who opened the scoring with an exquisite right-footed volley.
In the 19th minute, Bae Jun-ho doubled the lead. Following a throw-in, Bae Jun-ho received a pass from Park Chang-woo on the right flank, and after folding the opposing defender and goalkeeper in a single move, he rattled the net with a right-footed shot. After the goal, Bae finished with one goal and one assist.
With a 2-0 lead, South Korea took it easy until Ecuador conceded a penalty kick in the 30th minute. Park Chang-woo nudged Kendry Paes on the left side of the penalty area, but Paes went down and the penalty was awarded. It was a disappointing moment for the defense as it was not a dangerous situation. Justin Cuero stepped up to take the spot kick and converted, bringing the score to 2-1.
South Korea then pushed Ecuador to take the lead, but they managed to hold on to their one-goal lead to end the half.
Early in the second half, Korea regained the momentum. In the third minute of the second half, Lee Seung-won took a corner kick and defender Choi Seok-hyun made a lightning leap to redirect the ball into the net. The goal was placed in the corner of the goal, leaving the goalkeeper helpless.
With the score at 3-1, Korean coach Kim Eun-joong decided to tighten up his defense. In the 16th minute of the second half, he removed Kim Yong-hak and Lee Seung-won and inserted Kang Sung-jin (FC Seoul) and Hwang In-taek (Seoul E-Land), switching to a three-back tactic that focused on defense. Park Hyun-bin was replaced by Lee Chan-wook (Gyeongnam FC) to create a tight defense.
Ecuador also put pressure on the Korean defense by introducing attackers one after another. In the 39th minute of the second half, in a chaotic situation following an Ecuadorian corner kick, Sebastian Gonzalez shot in front of the goal to make up for it.
Despite being down 3-2, the Koreans focused on defense until the end to secure the one-goal victory. South Korea, who defeated Ecuador 1-0 in the semifinals of the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland, continued their dominance over Ecuador in the return match, winning 3-2. South Korea also maintained its dominance over the U-20s, winning 4-1.스포츠토토
With the quarterfinal victory, Kim Jung-ho will face Nigeria at 2:30 a.m. on Friday at the same venue for a spot in the quarterfinals. Nigeria advanced to the Round of 16 after finishing third in Group D, dubbed the Group of Death, on goal difference, tied with Brazil and Italy with two wins and one loss. In the round of 16, they upset hosts and heavy favorites Argentina 2-0.
South Korea leads the all-time U-20 series against Nigeria with two wins and two losses. The series is also tied at 1-1 in U-20 World Cup finals. South Korea won 2-1 in 2005 and lost 0-1 in 2013.