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Klinsmann’s men breathe easy with 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia…first win in six games

Klinsmann’s men beat Saudi Arabia for their first win in six matches.

The South Korean national soccer team, led by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann (GER), defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 in an exhibition match at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England, on Wednesday (Sept. 13), thanks to a 32nd-minute goal from Cho Kyu-sung (Meatwillan).

It was Klinsmann’s first win in six matches.

Klinsmann, who took over the reins of the South Korean national team in February of this year, hadn’t overseen a win in his previous five matches (three draws and two losses).

South Korea failed to win against Colombia (2-2) and Uruguay (1-2) in March’s Group A matches on Klinsmann’s debut, and lost to Peru (0-1) and drew with El Salvador (1-1) in June’s Group A matches.

A 0-0 draw in Wales on Aug. 8 left Klinsmann with the dubious distinction of becoming the most winless coach since the KFA introduced a full-time national team manager in 1992.

Klinsmann, who has faced harsh criticism from fans for his role in the “foreign oil-for-work” controversy, had a difficult time turning things around with the win.

South Korea narrowed the gap in the all-time series with Saudi Arabia to five wins, seven draws and six losses.

South Korea is ranked 28th and Saudi Arabia 54th in the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rankings.

Roberto Mancini (Italy), who took over the reins of Saudi Arabia last month, ended his two-match September A campaign without a win.

The Saudis are coming off a 1-3 loss to Costa Rica in an exhibition match on Sept. 9.

South Korea out-shot Costa Rica 18-7 on the day, including 9-2 in shots on goal.

However, there were some shaky moments in their defensive organization, as mistakes in passing led to good scoring opportunities for their opponents.

Klinsmann made one change from the Wales game, bringing in Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton) in place of Hong Hyun-seok (Gent).

Hong had returned home to join the national team for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.

Son Heung-min (Tottenham) and Cho Kyu-sung were once again the ‘two top’.

Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton) and Lee Jae-sung (Mainz) attacked on the left and right, while Hwang In-beom (Zvezda) and Park Yong-woo (Al Ain) played in the midfield.

From left to right, Lee Ki-je (Suwon), Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), Jung Seung-hyun, and Seol Young-woo (Ulsan) lined up in defense, while Kim Seung-kyu (Al-Shabaab) wore the goalkeeping gloves.

The Koreans were eager to shake off their sluggish start and attacked the opponent’s danger zone early on.

South Korea first came close to scoring in the ninth minute on a promising play from a set piece.

Son Heung-min took the free kick near the left corner, and Lee Ki-jae connected with a left-footed non-stop shot from the front of the goal area that sailed just wide of the left post.

After a brief lull in the Saudi attack midway through the first half, South Korea took the lead in the 32nd minute through a header from Cho Kyu-sung that capitalized on a defensive mistake.

Hwang In-beom’s forward pass was cleared off the line by Ali Bulaihi and bounced high into the air for Cho to head home on the left side of the goal.

It was Cho’s seventh career A-match goal and his first under Klinsmann.

It was also his first A-Match goal in 10 months since his multi-goal performance against Ghana at the Qatar 2022 World Cup last November.

South Korea looked set for a penalty in the 36th minute when Son Heung-min was brought down by a tackle from Hassan Tambakti in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper after a pass from Cho Kyu-sung, but the referee did not blow his whistle.

With the momentum in their favor, South Korea continued to try to score, but a series of saves by goalkeeper Muhammad Uwais denied them further chances.

In the 41st minute, Hwang Hee-chan’s ground ball from the penalty spot was saved by Uwais with a diving save to his left, and Lee Jae-sung’s subsequent rebound shot was also blocked by Uwais.

In the 10th minute of the second half, Hwang Hee-chan stripped a defender on the left and hit a right-footed shot that was caught by Uwais’ right foot. 안전놀이터

With their spears dulling as time wore on, South Korea made a change in the 23rd minute, removing Cho Kyu-sung and Hwang Hee-chan and bringing on Hwang Eui-jo (Norwich City) and Moon Sun-min (Jeonbuk).

In the 33rd minute, Lee Jae-sung was removed and Kang Sang-woo (Beijing Guoan) entered the fray.

However, the aggressive substitution did not result in another goal for Klinsmann’s men.

A couple of passing mistakes near the danger zone in the final minutes of the game led to a couple of chances for the opposition.

Klinsmann brought Son Heung-min and Hwang In-beom to the bench in the 46th minute, with Oh Hyun-gyu (Celtic) and Lee Sun-min (Gwangju) coming on to seal the 1-0 win.


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