Group D: Korea Republic 2-1 Vietnam
Kunshan: Korea Republic fought back from a goal down to pick up an opening 2-1 win over Vietnam in Group D of the AFC U23 Championship China 2018 on Thursday, with Kim Bong-gil’s side taking all three points despite a missed penalty from Yoon Seung-won.
Nguyen Quan Hai gave the Vietnamese a surprise lead but goals from Cho Yong-wook and Lee Keun-ho ensured the 2016 finalists turned the result around to claim all three points and stand level at the top of the group standings with Australia.
Both nations have three points after the Australians had earlier secured a 3-1 success over Syria and the pair could book their berths in the next phase of the competition with victories in the second round of matches.
Vietnam, meanwhile, will hope to make a similar start to their meeting with the Olyroos as they did against Korea, with Quan Hai curling his shot beyond Kang Hyeong-mu in spectacular fashion to give Park Hang-seo’s side the lead after just 17 minutes.
Three minutes later the Koreans threatened to level the scores, but Hwang Hyun-soo’s long range free-kick was narrowly wide of the Vietnam goal.
By the 29th minute, though, Kim’s side had equalised. Han Seung-gu’s pass from the edge of the area found Cho Young-wook in space behind the defence and he took his time to slot his low shot beyond Bui Tien Dung and into the far corner of the goal.
Korea almost added a second three minutes after the break when Doan Van Hau bundled Lee Keun-ho over in the area, but Yoon missed the resulting penalty kick.
In the end, though, that miss was not to prove decisive as the Koreans claimed the goal their dominance of the second half deserved 17 minutes from time.
Yoon floated a curling free-kick from the right into a congested penalty area and Lee Keun-ho used his height advantage to flick the ball over the heads of the Vietnamese defence and over the goal line.
The goal completed Korea’s comeback and will give Kim’s team momentum to take into their meeting with Syria on Sunday.
Kim Bong-gil: Korea Republic head coach
"It was our first match and it’s always difficult, In the first half we conceded a goal, but we managed to score twice we were able to win the game. In the next game hopefully we can play well. We conceded an early goal but I didn’t ask my players to hurry. They followed my instructions so it was good for us to not rush and to do our jobs."
Park Hang-seo: Vietnam head coach
"We scored first but unfortunately we still lost. In all of our defeats we make some mistakes and that’s why we lost the game. But, in general, all of our players played well and they did what I asked them to do. This is the first game for our team and our players were lacking a little bit of confidence and I think they can do better."