“It was a fantastic game of soccer, full of great goals, immensely talented players and top-notch drama”.
Kim Eun-joong’s U-20 team defeated Ecuador 3-2 in the round of 16 of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 at the Santiago del Estro Stadium in Argentina on Sunday (Feb. 2).
Bae Joon-ho scored a goal and an assist, while Lee Young-joon and Choi Seok-hyun each found the back of the net.
South Korea also met Ecuador at the 2019 tournament in Poland, winning 1-0 in the quarterfinals. South Korea leads the all-time series against Ecuador 4-1.
South Korea made their first appearance at the U-20 World Cup in 1979 in Japan and reached the quarterfinals in 1983 in Mexico following their first group stage exit.
Thirty-six years later, at the 2019 tournament in Poland, they finished as runners-up, their best-ever finish in a FIFA-sanctioned men’s tournament, under the guidance of Chung Jeong-yong. Then, four years later, Kim Eun-joong’s South Korea went unbeaten in four matches (two wins and two draws) to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in their history. South Korea has reached the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup six times in its history (1983-1991-2009-2013-2019-2023).
After rotating their squad for their third Group F match against The Gambia on March 29 to stabilize their fitness, South Korea came out firing against Ecuador. All the starters were on the field.
With the extra strength, South Korea took control of the game with strong pressure from the start.
The first goal came in the 11th minute. Bae Jun-ho played a pass from midfield to Munjeon, who trapped it with his chest on the right side of the penalty area before ripping a right-footed shot into the net. The pass and shot were pre-planned and clean.
With momentum on their side, South Korea added a second goal in the 19th minute of the first half at 1-0. Bae Jun-ho received a pass from Park Chang-woo, beat a defender near the penalty spot, and rattled the net again with a right-footed shot.
South Korea conceded a penalty kick to Ecuador in the 36th minute, but with the score 2-1, Choi Seok-hyun scored the third goal three minutes into the second half when he headed home a left corner kick from Lee Seung-won (Gangwon FC) in the box.
South Korea conceded a late goal in the 39th minute, but responded with a “player-paid counterattack” to protect their one-goal lead and punch their ticket to the quarterfinals. “We played with the idea of playing hard rather than trying to be good, which led to a good result,” said Bae Jun-ho.
After the game, the Spanish media was also full of praise for Korea.
“It was a great game,” said As. It’s a compliment that doesn’t come easily.
“It was a fantastic soccer game, full of great goals, incredibly talented players, and great drama,” he said.
“South Korea will be pleased that Ecuador showed off their attacking skills and the resilience to sustain them,” he added. “Korea will be happy that Ecuador showed off their offensive skills and the resilience to sustain it, especially considering how much they pushed forward in the second half.
“Korea fought well and showed the kind of organizational and individual ability that could see them go further in this tournament if they can overcome the huge challenge of Nigeria,” said Asse, adding, “The MVP has to go to Korea No. 10 Bae Jun-ho.”
Bae had one goal and one assist on the day. Bae Jun-ho first set up Lee Young-joon’s goal to give South Korea the momentum. On the counterattack, Bae drove down the left side of the field, stripped the opposing defense, and sent a cross right into the chest of Lee for him to shoot.
Bae Jun-ho also scored a goal himself. Picking up the ball near the penalty arc, Bae opened up his shooting angle with a move that fooled the opposing defender and goalkeeper before finishing cleanly. 메이저놀이터
FIFA also praised Bae for his performance. Bae, who was highly touted for his surprise performance in Daejeon this season, was not in perfect shape heading into the tournament, but he was given a chance to shine by the coaching staff and exploded against Ecuador.
FIFA also highlighted his performance, saying, “Bae Joon-ho made some delightful runs into the back of the defense,” and “Bae Joon-ho made two outstanding touches that left Ecuador defender Daniel de la Cruz baffled, and then made the score 2-0.”