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(LEAD) S. Korea lose 6-1 to Spain in football friendly

All News 03:17 June 02, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS comments, photo)

Salzburg, Austria, June 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea lost 6-1 to Spain in a football friendly match on Wednesday as their unbeaten streak came to an end with their worst defeat in 15 years.

Goals from David Silva, Alvaro Morata, Cesc Fabregas, and Manuel "Nolito" Agudo snapped South Korea's victory run at 16. South Korea hadn't lost since falling 2-1 to Australia at the Asian Cup final in January 2015. Spain also ended South Korea's nine-game winning streak and their record of 10 consecutive shutouts.

South Korea's head-to-head record against Spain is now two draws and four losses.

The defeat at the Red Bull Arena was South Korea's worst loss since 2001, when the national team suffered two 5-0 drubbings against France and the Czech Republic. South Korea hadn't surrendered six goals in a match since December 1996, when they had a 6-2 loss to Iran at the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup.

The 54th-ranked South Koreans were facing their first European opponents since head coach Uli Stielike took the helm in September 2014. Spain, ranked No. 6 in the FIFA, were also the strongest opponents that Stielike has faced in his 27 matches.

South Korea started the match with a 4-2-3-1 formation, playing Seongnam FC striker Hwang Ui-jo up front and Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min and FC Augsburg attacker Ji Dong-won attacking down the flanks.

Spain, looking for their third consecutive European title in France this month, rested five players from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, from their UEFA Champions League final clash over the weekend. But their star-studded squad was enough to control the game from the start, with midfielders Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Fabregas displaying their passing skills to feed forwards Morata and Nolito.

South Korea had a chance to get an opener in the eighth minute when Son was given the ball on the left of the penalty area, but his left-footed shot went over the net. Spain answered four minutes later with Iniesta's shot, which stung the palms of goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon.

Kim made another good save in the 28th as he dove to his right to parry the shot from Hector Bellerin, but Spain finally broke the deadlock in the 30th. After Morata won a free kick around 25 yards from the net, Silva brilliantly lifted the ball over the wall and into the top corner to make 1-0.

South Koreans then started to break down. Just two minutes later, Kim fumbled the ball when defender Jang Hyun-soo tried to head him the loose ball. Fabregas took full advantage of the blunder to tap one into the empty net and double Spain's lead.

Spain then punished South Korea in the 38th as left back Cesar Azpilicueta's pass found Nolito in the box and the Celta Vigo attacker slotted the ball into the bottom corner for 3-0.

South Korea tried to cut the deficit in the 44th when Hwang penetrated the left side of the box and passed the ball to left Yun Suk-young, but his right-footed shot was too weak to beat goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

For the second half, Spain made four substitutions, while South Koreans put FC Porto striker Suk Hyun-jun for Hwang to score goals. However, the goal parade from Spain continued.

In the 50th, Morata headed down half-time substitute Thiago Alcantara's corner kick for 4-0 and four minutes later, Nolito scored another after receiving Bellerin's pass in the box.

South Korea in the 61st replaced three players to change the pace of the game and they did make progress as Suk and Lee Jae-sung pushed forward and made shots against Casillas. Their effort finally paid off in the 83rd minute as second-half substitute Ju Se-jong's strike found the net over goalkeeper Sergio Rico, who came on for Casillas in the 74th.

But Spain further punished South Korea in the 89th as Morata got his second goal of the match with his right-foot.

The match against Spain was the first of South Korea's two friendlies in Europe. South Korea next take on the No. 29 Czech Republic on Sunday in Prague before returning home next Tuesday. These two matches are designed to help South Korea prepare for the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup starting in September.

Stielike said he is the one to take the blame and emphasized his players tried their best. But the coach added he didn't expect that the gap between Spain and South Korea would be this big.

"I have no problem with people saying that today's result is my responsibility," he said. "Instead of talking about each player's performance, our team in general was not good."

Stielike said Spain showed why they are one of the world's football powerhouses. The German, who had played with Spanish club Real Madrid in late 1970s, pointed out that Spain had better techniques and played at a different level than South Korea.

Stielike admitted the South Korean players got shaky after conceding the first goal and suffered a mental breakdown after surrendering goals in the early second half. However, the 61-year-old emphasized that he didn't want players to just foul Spanish players to stop their offense.

"We could have conceded more goals than three in the first half," he said. "I think we should make some improvements in our technical abilities."

Stielike said that they've learned a lesson from the match and will put in a better performance against the Czech Republic.

"We need to learn a lot of things from this match and we should fix our problems," he said. "It will be critical for us to overcome this kind of defeat."

Team captain Ki Sung-yueng said that it was players' mistakes that led to the painful defeat. The 27-year-old midfielder played full time, but struggled to produce dangerous moments against Spain.

"If we can't overcome these kinds of mistakes, we can't get a good result on the international stage," he said. "In football, anyone can make mistakes, but we should try to reduce mistakes to become a better team."

kdon@yna.co.kr
(END)

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