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Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia suffer opening match defeats

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Bielsko-Biala: Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia's FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland campaigns got off to losing starts on Saturday. 

Reigning AFC U-19 Championship winners Saudi Arabia were defeated 2-0 by France while Korea Republic were edged 1-0 by two-time FIFA U-20 World Cup champions Portugal.

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A red card for Saudi Arabia's Faraj Abdullah Al-Ghashayan changed the complexion of the match as France opened their Group E campaign with a 2-0 win over the West Asians

It was a tight match until a red card for Al Ghashayan saw France take a firm grip on proceedings.

Just as the match was starting to take shape, a heavy foul was committed on France's Boubakary Soumare. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) determined the foul by Al-Ghashayan was worthy of a red card, seeing the Saudis reduced to 10 men.

With numbers in their favour, France were able to capitalise with goals from Youssouf Fofana (43rd) and Amine Gouiri (75th).

Despite being a player down, Saudi Arabia put up a valiant effort.

Their best chance came in the closing moments of the first half. In stoppage time at the end of the opening period, Turki Al-Ammar's effort tested France goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

France will look to capitalise on their strong start when they face Panama on Tuesday, with the Saudis hoping to pick themselves up against Mali on the same day.


Triancao's seventh minute strike steered Portugal to a 1-0 win over Korea Republic in their Group F tie at the Bielsko-Biala Stadium.

It was, however, not an easy victory for the European champions as they had to fend off a resurgent Korea Republic who pressed hard for the equaliser.

A punishing counter-attack gave Portugal the lead, as Trincao tore through the centre of a scrambling Korean defence to tuck in his side’s first goal of the tournament.

🇵🇹 @selecaoportugal hang on to early lead & take all 3️⃣ points in opening match in Group F#U20WC

— (@FIFAcom) May 25, 2019

The Portuguese would nearly duplicate the feat 12 minutes later, with Trincao appearing to have secured his brace before the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ruled that Rafael Leao was offside in the build-up to the goal.

Korea Republic came out stronger in the second half. Lee Kang-in offered the first shot on target for his side just before the hour mark, a curling, speculative effort from outside the box that was saved comfortably by Portugal goalkeeper Joao Virginia.

In the end Portugal continued their good form from the Continental championships to set themselves up for a mouthwatering heavyweight bout with Argentina on Tuesday. Korea Republic play South Africa on the same day.

Japan, meanwhile, will face Mexico in Group B on Sunday, having fought back from a goal down to hold South American champions Ecuador 1-1 in their Group B opener on Thursday.

Qatar's campaign got off to a losing start on Friday, with the West Asians falling 4-0 to a highly impressive Nigeria in a Group D tie. Qatar face Ukraine next on Monday, with the Europeans having edged USA 2-1 on Friday.

Sources:, FIFA via Getty Images