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(LEAD) S. Korea stun 10-man Czech Republic in football friendly

All News 02:00 June 06, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS comments in last 8 paras)

PRAGUE, June 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea stunned the 10-man Czech Republic in a 2-1 football friendly victory in Prague on Sunday.

Midfielder Yoon Bitgaram had a goal and set up another in South Korea's first-ever win over the Czechs. The South Koreans entered the match at Eden Arena with three draws and a loss in their previous four meetings. Sunday's victory was sweet revenge for their 5-0 loss in 2001.

It also washed off painful memories of South Korea's crushing 6-1 defeat against Spain in Austria on Wednesday. South Korea had two friendlies in Europe this month to prepare for their final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup starting in September. They will return home on Tuesday.

The 50th-ranked South Korea started the match with a 4-2-3-1 formation, playing FC Porto striker Suk Hyun-jun up front with Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min and FC Augsburg attacker Ji Dong-won attacking down the flanks.

The Czechs, 30th in the latest FIFA rankings, also came up with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with veteran midfielder Tomas Rosicky -- the only player on either squad to have played in the 2001 match -- starting as the playmaker and Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech in net.

This was the Czechs' third and final warm-up match before entering the 2016 UEFA European Championship in France next week. They previously thrashed Malta 6-0 and edged Russia 2-1. The Czechs are in Group D along with Spain, Turkey and Croatia.

On Sunday, the two teams had no shots until the 20th minute when Rosicky struck with his right foot, but was denied by goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong. Ji then delivered South Korea's first shot two minutes later.

South Korea stunned the home fans in the 26th when Yoon, making his first national team appearance since September 2012, beat Cech with his curling right-footed free kick. It was Yoon's third international goal in his 15th match.

The Czechs then went for an equalizer in the 31st, also with a free kick, but Rosicky's effort went wide. In the 39th, Tomas Necid headed down Pavel Kaderabek's cross from right, only to miss the right side of the net.

The South Koreans doubled the lead in the 40th when Yoon this time set up Suk in the box and the 24-year-old found the net with his powerful right-footed strike.

The Czechs, however, cut the deficit less than a minute into the second half, when Marek Suchy's shot from a distance was deflected by defender Kwak Tae-hwi and rolled into the net. The momentum quickly swayed in the hosts' favor and right back Theodor Gebre Selassie almost had an equalizer in the 52nd with a shot that hit the post.

While the Czechs were reinforcing their attacks, Gebre Selassie poured cold water on their efforts as he was sent off in the 60th. The Werder Bremen defender fouled midfielder Jung Woo-young and picked up his second yellow card of the match.

The Czechs, however, didn't slow down their attacks despite playing with 10 men. In the 65th, Necid's shot in the box was tipped away by goalkeeper Jung and in the 75th, Jiri Skalak's shot with his chest in was also denied.

The Czechs kept pushing forward for an equalizer, but even with the four minutes of added time, they failed to level the score and handed the South Koreans a precious away victory.

South Korea head coach Uli Stielike praised his players, saying that they got just the result that they wanted.

"After the 6-1 defeat against Spain, it was important to see how much our players have recovered their mental strength," Stielike said. "They showed that they were 100 percent recovered (from the defeat)."

The 61-year-old German said that if South Korea lost against the Czechs, they would have been facing difficulties in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 World Cup. But with the win, Stielike said South Korea can make big progress and they should have more opportunities to face strong teams in friendlies.

"We lost to Spain 6-1, but had a better success rate in passing than we did today," he said. "Today, we fought hard against the opponents and showed an impressive performance in winning the ball. If we can combine good things from those two matches, I think we will make improvements in many areas."

Suk, who netted the team's second goal, said he was happy with his score. The 24-year-old, who bagged his fourth goal in 10 matches for South Korea, said he was just playing hard to get the victory.

"I know our team atmosphere wasn't that good after the match against Spain, but everyone fought hard to win and we got the good result," he said. "I think we can keep up the pace to the final World Cup qualification round."

Suk said that the goal doesn't mean that he has secured a national team striker position. For the two friendly matches in Europe, he and Seongnam FC striker Hwang Ui-jo were selected to share the team's goal poacher role.

"I think any player can take my position at any time," he said. "I have to show a good performance in every match and I will be always prepared for that."


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