‘Header winner’ Cho Kyu-sung saves only a clean sheet…South Korea beat Mancini’s Saudi 1-0 for first win in 2023!

The Klinsmanns finally got a win. It was their first win since a 2-1 victory over Portugal in the third round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and their first since 2023. A win, but a game full of flaws.

The South Korean national soccer team, led by Jürgen Klinsmann, beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in a September A friendly at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England, at 1:30 a.m. ET on Sept. 13. It was Klinsmann’s first win in six games as South Korea’s head coach.

[Match preview] A must-win game

Klinsmann, who took over from Paulo Bento, hasn’t won in five games. They drew 2-2 with Colombia and lost 1-2 to Uruguay. They lost 0-1 to Peru and then drew 1-1 with El Salvador. By June, they had gone four games without a win, but a 0-0 draw in Wales in their last game extended their winless streak to five games. Klinsmann is the coach with the longest winless streak since the organization switched to a full-time manager in 1992. His credibility has since been tarnished by controversy.

Saudi Arabia recently appointed Roberto Mancini, one of Europe’s greatest coaches. The kingdom is investing heavily in soccer at the national level, and the league is home to a number of stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Neymar. With more motivation than ever, the Saudis are eager to get their first win under Mancini. Almost all of the team’s resources play in their national leagues, so they know each other well and are well organized. Even if their recent form hasn’t been great, they’re no pushover.

Prior to today’s match, Saudi Arabia had won four, drawn seven and lost six of their previous A matches. In the last five matches, it was the same, with one win, three draws and one loss.

[Starting lineup] Hwang Hee-chan for Hwang Sun-Hong for Hong Hyun-seok… The other 10 are unchanged from the Wales game.

South Korea (4-4-2) : Kim Seung-Gyu (GK) – Lee Ki-Jae, Kim Min-Jae, Jung Seung-Hyun, Seol Young-Woo – Hwang Hee-Chan, Hwang In-Beom, Park Yong-Woo, Lee Jae-Sung – Cho Kyu-Sung, Son Heung-Min

Saudi Arabia (4-3-3): Al Owais (GK)-Al Shahrani, Al Bulaihi, Al Tambakti, Abdulhamid-Al Dawsari, Al Kaibari, Kanu-Al Dawsari, Al Hamdan, Al Gharib

[First half] A different performance from Wales…Cho Kyu-sung scores first, Klinsmann’s men take a 1-0 lead

South Korea played a 4-4-2 formation against Saudi Arabia, who pressed hard. Hwang Hee-chan was on the left and Lee Jae-sung on the right. Son Heung-min formed a two-top with Cho Kyu-sung. In the third minute of the first half, Hwang In-beom caught the ball, turned fluidly, broke through, and sent it to Cho Kyu-sung. Cho Kyu-sung’s shot was blocked, resulting in a corner kick. In the 4th minute, Hwang Hee-chan’s shot was blocked by the defense after a connection between Son Heung-min and Lee Jae-sung. 5th minute, Hwang In-beom’s good pass to Son Heung-min was called back for offside.

A crucial mistake came from the back. In the 6th minute, there was a miscommunication between Jung Seung-hyun and Kim Seung-gyu and the ball was given away. Kim Seung-gyu made a narrow save to avoid the danger. In the 8th minute, on a free kick, Son Heung-min sent a pass to Lee Ki-jae with a left-footed shot that went wide of the goal. In the 11th minute, Son Heung-min’s left-footed shot went straight at Al Owais.

As Saudi Arabia’s pressure increased, there were some shaky moments at the back, such as Kim Min-jae’s mistake in the 13th minute, but it didn’t lead to a decisive crisis. In the 17th minute, Saudi Arabia had their first chance. Al-Shahrani sent in a cross that Al-Hamdan connected with a shot that was blocked by the defense. In the 19th minute, Al Dawsari’s shot from a free kick was saved by Kim Seung-gyu.

South Korea regained the lead. In the 22nd minute, Park Yong-woo’s pass was received by Lee Jae-sung and crossed back to Son Heung-min. Son Heung-min’s cross went over the top of the goal. In the 24th minute, Son Heung-min had a good chance but his shot was saved by Al Owais. In the 26th minute, Al Dosari had a one-on-one chance with Kim Seung-gyu, but Kim was able to make the save. Saudi Arabia, who had looked out of sync throughout, regained possession and settled down with backward passes.

Cho Kyu-sung scored the first goal. In the 31st minute, Lee Jae-sung sent a pass from the right side to the center, where Son Heung-min flicked it on. Hwang In-beom passed it to Al-Bulaihi, who hit it and it floated upwards. Cho Kyu-sung finished with a header to give Korea the lead.

A controversial call. In the 34th minute, in a contested situation with the Saudi Arabian defense, Cho Kyu-sung won the ball and passed it to Son Heung-min. Heung-min had a crucial chance, but Altambakti made a tackle. Heung-min claimed a penalty kick (PK), but the referee didn’t budge.

Cho Kyu-sung had a chance to add another goal. In the 37th minute, Park Yong-woo’s cross was met by Cho Kyu-sung’s foot, but Al Owais caught it. In the 41st minute, Lee Jae-sung’s long pass was caught by Son Heung-min and sent through. Hwang Hee-chan takes a left-footed shot that is blocked by Al Owais. Hwang In-beom collects the second ball and shoots, but it’s blocked again. In the 42nd minute, Hwang In-Bum almost scored an own goal when his shot was blocked by the defense. Hwang Hee-chan’s shot from a corner kick went wide.

Son Heung-min’s free kick in the first half added time was saved by Al Owais. The first half ended with South Korea leading 1-0 after Cho Kyu-sung scored the first goal.

[Second half] We made a lot of substitutions, but our offense was unsuccessful…1-0 win

At the start of the second half, Saudi Arabia pulled Al Gharib and replaced him with Al Buraikhan. South Korea continued to dominate the second half. In the third minute of the second half, Kim Min-jae’s fantastic pass was received by Son Heung-min and sent to Lee Jae-sung. Lee Jae-sung’s shot was blocked. In the second half, South Korea continued to push forward. Son Heung-min and Lee Jae-sung played concise passes, and Kim Min-jae went up high to join the attack. In the ninth minute of the second half, Hwang Hee-chan beat the defense on a solo run, but his shot was blocked by Al Owais.

The attacks continued. Saudi Arabia was shaken by the Korean onslaught. The Saudis increased the intensity of their pressure in an attempt to gain some momentum. However, they were unable to capitalize on their chances. In the 16th minute, Al Hamdan had a one-on-one opportunity and took a shot, but it was ruled offside. In the 18th minute, Park Yong-woo headed wide from a South Korean corner. Saudi Arabia made a change with the introduction of Bhamhaswood and Al Hazazi.

Hwang Hee-chan’s breakthrough ability shone through. When she drove the ball up from the left flank, Saudi Arabia couldn’t defend properly. In the 20th minute, she had another good dribble and sent a low cross, but it was cleared by the defense. Klinsmann brought on Cho Kyu-sung and Hwang Hee-chan in the 23rd minute and added Hwang Eui-jo and Moon Sun-min. The substitutions were meant to give the offense a boost, but it became an even match as Saudi Arabia moved up the line and attacked.

The Saudis added Al-Ghanam and Al-Bisi, while Korea substituted Kang Sang-woo for Lee Jae-sung. Overall, Korea’s physicality dropped and Saudi Arabia gained possession of the ball and pushed forward. Jeong Seung-hyun almost had an own goal, but was lucky to escape. South Korea brought on Son Heung-min and Hwang In-beom in the 45th minute and added Oh Hyun-gyu and Lee Sun-min. Saudi Arabia went on the offensive right before the end. They broke into the space and tried to create chances, but the Korean defense, led by Kim Min-jae, denied them. Al Bisi’s shot in the final minute of the game went wide of the goal. The game ended with a 1-0 victory for South Korea.


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