The adventure is over for Nigeria in the U20 World Cup in Argentina. South Korea, with a goal from defender Choi Seok-Hyun in the first part of extra time, beat Javier Mascherano's executioner 1-0 on Sunday and will face Italy for a place in the final of the tournament.
The strategy again saved the Asian team, which only managed to break the iron African defense with a header from Choi Seok-Hyun at the exit of a corner in the 95th minute, after a bland and weak goalless draw during regulation time.
The defender leveled a match in which the defenses of both teams prevailed in the Estadio Único Madre de Ciudades de Santiago del Estero.
Korea awaits on Thursday in the semifinals Italy, which took out in the quarterfinals to Colombia and in the second round to England, the current champion of Europe. The Super Eagles leave with their heads held high after eliminating Argentina at home.
The first surprise of the afternoon came from the Korean side. Kim Eun-Jung left on the bench the best of his players, Bae Jun-Ho. Nigeria's eleven also included a new variation from the knockout stages and was the entry of their most promising pearl, AC Milan midfielder Victor Eletu.
In a duel between two teams that give up taking the initiative, Korea and Nigeria decided to throw away the first 45 minutes. It was hard not to yawn. The archers were hardly given work.
Nigeria, accustomed to running with spaces, moved the ball like a pendulum, from side to side, without doing any damage, looking for some gap through the ends, which suffered with the double marking of the Koreans.
Those of Kim Eun-Jung, also lovers of the backlash, were more erratic than usual in the transitions.
The only clear play of danger was played by Eletu with a good individual play that ended in a dry shot to the stick that Kim Joon-Hong cleared. It was the 30th minute of the match.
Korea, between shy and overwhelmed by the imposing physique of the rival, only seemed to cheer up in the last moments of the first half with the incorporation from the left lane of Bae Seo-Joon.
The question that remained was, would they be saving for the second half? In the case of Korea, yes, because at halftime Bae Jun-Ho, the brain of the team, jumped onto the field.
The joy of South Koreans. Photo: REUTERS/Matias Baglietto
The entrance of the 10 allowed them to release moorings and approach with a little more ease to the domains of Aniagboso.Nigeria also wanted to react by changing two of the men above. It was the turn of Ibrahim Kehinde and Emmanuel Umeh.
Kehinde was the most active in the final stretch. In Korea, Bae Jun-Ho responded, although the tie ended up going to extra time. And again the blackboard of coach Kim Eun-Jung appeared.
Corner thrown by captain Lee Seung-Won and header to the first stick of Choi Seok-Hyun, who already has two goals in this World Cup. He was able to tie Umeh afterwards on two separate occasions, but he didn't get it right.
The dream of revalidating the final of Poland 2019 is still alive for Korea.