At Jeonju World Cup Stadium, about 240 kilometers south of Seoul, Domagoi Vida and Nikola Kalinic each scored in the second half, and Lee Keun-ho's header in injury time proved too little, too late for the home side.
South Korea entered this match ranked 56th in the world, while Croatia is at No. 8 in the latest FIFA rankings.
|South Korea’s Lee Yong and Nikola Kalinic of Croatia fight for the ball during a friendly match at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in South Korea on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)|
Croatia had defeated South Korea 4-0 in their previous meeting in February this year, but the European side brought a much different lineup this time. Striker Mario Mandzukic of Bayern Munich and midfielder Luka Modric of Real Madrid didn't make the trip. Croatia's 16-man roster included nine players who had played in two or fewer international matches before Tuesday.
This was South Korea's second friendly match of September. It defeated Haiti 4-1 last Friday for the first victory under head coach Hong Myung-bo. Since Hong took over the national team, South Korea had three draws and one loss before beating Haiti.
For Croatia, Vida ended the scoreless deadlock in the 64th minute. Leon Benko set up the defensive back with a headed pass off a free kick, and South Korean midfielder Han Kook-young was caught out of position as Vida headed one past goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong.
Croatia doubled the lead seven minutes later, as Kalinic leapt over Yun Suk-young to head in a cross by Ivan Perisic.
With Croatia in control of the midfield, South Korea mustered little offense and managed only one shot on net in the first half.
The home side started the second half with more energy, as Son Heung-min, who scored twice against Haiti, forced Kresic to make a diving save on a rolling shot from the left wing in the 46th.
At the hour mark, Lee Chung-yong took a long pass from Lee Yong and charged all the way to the penalty spot, before Kresic came out of the net and foiled the breakaway chance.
Two minutes later, Lee was on the prowl again, as Kim Young-gwon's towering pass set up another one-on-one opportunity. But Igor Bubnjic deflected the shot out of play.
Croatia quickly turned the tide with two unanswered goals. Lee Keun-ho headed in a Lee Yong cross seconds before the final whistle as South Korea avoided another scoreless defeat to Croatia.
South Korea has two friendly matches scheduled for next month, facing Brazil on Oct. 12 and Mali three days later. (Yonhap News)