Joy for Korea Republic, heartbreak for Saudi Arabia
Tychy: Korea Republic edged South Africa 1-0 while Saudi Arabia suffered the agony of a late 4-3 defeat at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland on Tuesday.
Both Asian teams went into their respective matches needing to win after having lost their opening ties but while Korea Republic held on strongly after Kim Hyun-woo gave them the lead in the 69th minute, Saudi Arabia saw Mali come from behind twice to take all three points deep in added time.
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SOUTH AFRICA 0-1 KOREA REPUBLIC
Korea Republic picked up their first points of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 win against a resilient South Africa in Group F at the Tychy Stadium.
Even though torrential rain significantly affected the flow of the match in the opening period, it was South Africa who were in the ascendancy in the first half. A good stop by Lee Gwang-yeon in the Korea goal kept out a deflected effort by Siphesihle Mkhize, but the downpour inhibited the quality of play in general - meaning few opportunities.
With conditions clearing after the break, the Koreans returned to the field a different side.
The Asian outfit fired a couple of warning shots across the South African bow, with Cho Young-wook blazing over having been teed up by Oh Se-hun, and Jeong Ho-jin later rattling the crossbar.
Thabo Senong's side did not heed these warnings, and the deadlock was broken with just over 20 minutes remaining. A deflected cross into the South African penalty area looped high into the Tychy sky, and it was Hyun-woo who found the corner of the net with a clinically accurate header.
The Koreans comfortably saw out the game, and head into their final Group F clash with already-qualified Argentina on Friday level on points with their opening day conquerors Portugal. South Africa face a must-win clash against the two-time U-20 World Cup winners in Bielsko-Biala.
SAUDI ARABIA 3-4 MALI
Mali came from behind to defeat Saudi Arabia 4-3 in Group E at the Gdynia Stadium in one of the most entertaining games to date at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland.
This match-up of Continental champions lived up to its billing, tilting back and forth several times. Saudi Arabia built a two-goal lead after just 20 minutes thanks to Feras Albrikan running loose behind the Mali defence and Hassan Altambakti converting a penalty.
Saudi Arabia would gift a goal back before the half, however, as goalkeeper Abdulrahman Alshammari's attempt to play the ball to a teammate was intercepted by Sekou Koita, who fired into an empty net.
Mali entered the second half reinvigorated, leveling the game in the 54th minute through Ibrahima Kone. It was only nine minutes later that Saudi Arabia regained the lead through Khalid Alghannam, whose cute lob struck in full stride from 25 yards out caught goalkeeper Youssouf Koita off guard.
Still, Mali were unfazed. First Boubacar Traore tied the match once more via a rocket from the right-hand side. Then came the 90th-minute winner courtesy of Mohamed Camara, followed by unbridled joy from the African champions. Koita's curling cross found Camara at full pace, giving Mali four points from two games and a great chance of advancing to the knockout stages.
Saudi Arabia, who lost 2-0 to France in their opener, face Panama on Friday with Mali looking for a result against already qualified France.
Japan, who impressed in a 3-0 win over Mexico and come-from-behind 1-1 draw with Ecuador, face Group B leaders Italy on Wednesday.
The Italians - who defeated Mexico 2-1 and Ecuador 1-0 - will be a tough test but with the knockout stage within touching distance, Japan will be up for the challenge as they only need a draw to advance
Qatar, having suffered defeats against Nigeria (4-0) and Ukraine (1-0), will be determined to take the three points in their final Group D match against USA on Thursday.
Sources: FIFA.com, FIFA via Getty Images
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