U20 World Cup

Korea Advance to Semi-Finals of U20 World Cup

South Korea have qualified for the semi-finals of the FIFA U20 World Cup for the first time since 1983 after beating Senegal on penalties in a remarkable match in Bielsko-Biala, Poland.

The Asian side went behind in the 37th minute, when Senegal captain Cavin Diagne found himself free in the box, getting on the end of a knock-down and firing a half-volley into the back of the Korean net.

Korea were then awarded a penalty in the 58th minute due to an off-ball foul in the area. After a quick consultation with VAR, Lee Kang-in was given the chance to pull the game level from the penalty spot. The Valencia youngster’s shot was parried by the goalkeeper, but still found it’s way into the bottom corner of the net.

The situation then reversed just 14 minutes later, when Korean defender Lee Jae-ik was penalized for a hand-ball, once again decided by VAR. It looked at first like goalkeeper Lee Gwang-yeon got the better of Ibrahima Niane from 12 yards, but he was adjudged to have come off his line before saving the shot,  resulting in a do-over opportunity for Senegal.

At the second time of asking, Niane made no such mistake. Even though the goalkeeper guessed the right way for a second time, the striker’s placement was enough to re-establish his side’s advantage.

As if the drama hadn’t already reached its peak, Korea struck back in the 9th minute of stoppage time to send the game into extra time. Defender Lee Ji-sol got on the end of Lee Kang-in’s cross at the front post, sending a header back across the face of goal which cannoned off the bar and found it’s way across the line, sending the Korean players into delirium.

The Taeguk Warriors thought they had wrapped up the game in the 6th minute of extra time, when Cho Young-wook broke beyond the Senegalese defense, got on the end of a well-timed through ball and fired his shot home to give his side the lead for the first time in the match.

However, Senegal would have their own moment of stoppage time ecstasy to come, as Amadou Ciss placed a first-time shot into the bottom corner of the Korean net, meaning that the game would be decided from the spot.

Shooting first, both Kim Jung-min and Cho Young-wook missed for Korea, while Mamadou Danfa gave his side the lead. Um Wong-sang was able to eventually level the scoring, and a subsequent error from Dia Ndiaye on Senegal’s fourth penalty allowed Korea to take advantage courtesy of Oh Se-hun. The game was eventually decided when Cavin Diagne’s shot flashed above the bar, sending his side crashing out of the tournament and securing passage for Korea into the semi-finals.

The dream run for the Asian side is set to continue on Tuesday, June 11th, when they take on Ecuador in the semi-finals.