South Korea 3-3 Senegal, 3-2 penalties
A resurgent Korea Republic prevailed 3-2 on penalties in an engrossing encounter with Senegal at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 that finished 3-3 at the end of extra time.
Senegal were the more active attackers in the first half at the Bielsko-Biala Stadium and broke through in the 37th minute. Ibrahima Niane’s cushioned header from the goal line set up captain Cavin Diagne for an uncontested finish from eight yards.
The Young Lions of Teranga held their lead until the 62nd minute. Korea Republic earned a penalty after Lee Jisol was pushed in the back inside the 18-yard box, and up stepped Lee Kangin to equalise coolly from the spot.
Seven minutes later Senegal returned the favour after Lee Jaeik was ruled to have handled the ball in the box by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). Lee Gwangyeon saved Niane’s initial spot-kick attempt but was shown a yellow card for coming off his line too soon, and Niane made no mistake with his second try.
Korea Republic desperately searched for the equaliser and found it at the last moment through Jisol’s glancing header at the near post eight minutes into stoppage time.
Bursting with confidence heading into extra time, the Taeguk Warriors seized control when Kangin played Cho Youngwook through with an expertly-weighted pass in the 96th minute. Youngwook slotted the ball into the net to give Korea Republic their first lead of the match.
Senegal refused to let up on offense and were rewarded in the waning seconds of extra time. Amadou Ciss picked out the bottom corner of the goal from the top of the box to send the game to penalties.
Emblematic of the day’s performance, Korea Republic fell behind by missing their first two spot-kicks but battled back to advance to the semi-finals, with Oh Sehun converting his side’s final attempt while Diagne’s attempt for Senegal went over the crossbar.
Semi-final, Tuesday 11 June
Ecuador-Korea Republic (Lublin, 20:30 local time)
Ecuador 2-1 USA
Jose Cifuentes’ first-half screamer helped Ecuador outpace the USA 2-1 and reach their first semi-finals at a FIFA U-20 World Cup.
La Tricolor struck first and with purpose at Gdynia Stadium. Cifuentes’ thunderous, right-footed effort from 25 yards left USA goalkeeper David Ochoa grasping at air as the ball seared the back of the net.
The Stars and Stripes were not behind for long. Tim Weah volleyed past Moises Ramirez from close range in the 36th minute following Alex Mendez’s corner kick. It was Weah’s second goal at Poland 2019.
As the game began to open up, the South American holders retook the lead through Jhon Espinoza just before half-time. The defender was rewarded for his run through the middle of the penalty area when he connected with Leonardo Campana’s centering pass to score, giving his side a 2-1 advantage in the 43rd minute.
Sebastian Soto earned the USA’s best chance to draw level in the second half. Substitute Uly Llanez picked Soto out lurking at the far post, but Ramirez charged off his line to force the USA goalscorer’s shot off target in the 58th minute.
Though the reigning CONCACAF winners reached their third consecutive quarter-finals they have been unable to advance past that stage each time. Ecuador will travel to Lublin for their first semi-final on 11 June.
Semi-final, Tuesday 11 June
Ecuador-Korea Republic/Senegal (Lublin, 20:30 local time)
By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde