South Korea stunned Colombia 2-1 in their men's friendly football match on Friday, submitting easily their most inspired effort of the year.
Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min grabbed a brace for the hosts at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 46 kilometers south of Seoul, as 62nd-ranked South Korea upset 13th-ranked Colombia.
|Son Heung-min of South Korea celebrates his first goal against Colombia in the teams' friendly football match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 10, 2017. (Yonhap)|
This was only South Korea's second victory in their ninth match of 2017. The country previously had just one win against three draws and four losses.
Head coach Shin Tae-yong also enjoyed his first win in his fifth attempt with the national team.
South Korea, much-maligned for a string of poor matches and maddening inability to score, played with an extra bounce in their steps and competed with the kind of determination not seen all year. It was the heavily favored Colombia, featuring Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez, that looked flustered for most of the first half.
South Korea came out firing shot after shot at goalkeeper Andres Castellanos, a 33-year-old making his international debut.
Then just 11 minutes into the match, Son, usually a winger playing up front in this one, put South Korea on the board. Forward Lee Keun-ho sprinted down the right flank and sent a cross toward the middle. It deflected off the body of Kwon Chang-hoon and landed at Son, who had his back to the net surrounded by two defenders.
Castellanos charged out of his position to close in on Son, but Son somehow found enough space to roll the ball through all three opponents and into the gaping net.
It was Son's 19th goal in his 60th international match. He has now scored in back-to-back matches for South Korea, after going a little over a year without a goal.
Son's goal also marked just the second time South Korea opened the scoring all year.
Colombia tried to mount some counterattacks but failed to generate much. James Rodrigeuz's free kick in the 13th minute rolled just wide of the net, and the 26-year-old star, commonly known as James, wouldn't have another scoring opportunity in the opening half as South Korea started putting more pressure on the opposing defense.
Kim Jin-su and Kwon Chang-hoon each tested Castellanos with hard shots midway through the first half. For Colombia, Giovanni Moreno snuck in behind the defense to receive a long pass from midfield, but chipped one over the net.
Then Lee Kuen-ho took over the match. His 39th-minute header following Kim Jin-su's cross bounced just wide of the right post. In the next minute, Lee was in alone on Castellanos but couldn't beat the goalkeeper. Four minutes later, Lee attempted another shot that went over the intended target.
Son doubled the lead for South Korea 16 minutes into the second half. Right fullback Choi Chul-soon found Son outside the right edge of the box, and Son fired a low, hard shot home for his second goal of the night.
Castellanos only got a piece of it and helplessly watched the ball roll across the goal line.
Colombian players grew increasingly testy, and there was plenty of shoving and pushing during stoppages of play.
The visitors finally answered in the 76th minute as Cristian Zapata headed in James' free kick. Then James nearly evened the score himself with a curling free kick that barely missed the target to the right in the 80th minute.
Two minutes later, Abel Aguilar launched one from just inside the box, only to see his attempt go wide.
Over the final dozen or so minutes, South Korea dug deep and held on for a gratifying victory before nearly 30,000 fans.