The young Taeguk Warriors, who are looking to win their first-ever World Cup title after narrowly missing out in 2019, upset France despite having less possession and opportunities throughout the game.
Both sides found a few chances to score at the beginning of the first half, and Korea opened the scoring first with a counter-attack that started from France’s corner.
Korea snatched the ball from the corner, and captain Lee Seung-won slotted it into the back of the net in the 22nd minute after a one-on-one with goalkeeper Thimothee Lo-Tutala.
France then tried to bounce back and created multiple opportunities to equalize from the left-wing position, but they failed to get on the scoresheet and ended the first half 1-0.
Their attacks persisted in the second half, but they still struggled to turn it into a much-needed goal despite more possession and solid chances inside the penalty box.
The young Taeguk Warriors rather stretched their lead with Lee Young-joon’s header in the 64th minute that started from Lee Seung-won’s free kick.
Alan Virginius put one back for France after converting a penalty in the 70th minute, but Korea’s defense stayed firm to end the game 2-1.
“We were able to score those goals because we prepared for those kinds of situations,” Lee Seung-won said after the match, referring to the two goals he was involved in.
U-20 manager Kim Eun-jung was also pleased with the team’s overall performance.
“Since France is a top favorite, we prepared defense factors and counter-attacks, and I think the players implemented my tactics well,” Kim said. “France attacked aggressively, but I am thankful our defense stayed focused until the end and did not concede more goals.”
This is the first time Korea has managed a win in their first World Cup group stage game since 2017 when Korea beat Guinea 3-0.
They lost 1-0 to Portugal in their first group stage game of the 2019 tournament, when they finished as runners-up.
Korea will face Honduras on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the same venue as Monday’s game, where they may book a ticket to the round of 16 early with another win.
Korea sits in joint first place with the Gambia as of Tuesday with one win and the same goal difference, while Honduras and France are tied in third place with one loss and the same goal difference.
BY PAIK JI-HWAN [email@example.com]