(ATTN: ADDS comments in paras 8-9, 11)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- A shake-up in the starting lineup produced some encouraging moments for South Korea on offense against Chile in their 2-0 victory in a World Cup tuneup match Monday, though question marks still remained at the other end.
South Korea's two Premier League players, Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers, scored a goal apiece against 10-man Chile at Daejeon World Cup Stadium in Daejeon, some 160 kilometers south of Seoul.
South Korea had suffered a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Brazil last Thursday, and head coach Paulo Bento had announced there would be some changes to his starting lineup.
Bento inserted four new players into his starting XI on Monday. Son, who had played on the wings last week, moved up as the lone striker. And with Son, the Premier League Golden Boot winner, frequently drawing attention from multiple defenders, Hwang, Na Sang-ho and Jeong Woo-yeong, a trio of attacking midfielders, smartly exploited the open space.
And Jeong, a bundle of energy for SC Freiburg, connected with Hwang for the team's first goal, setting up the well-struck shot with a cross from the right wing.
Football analyst Hahn June-hea said Jeong's ability to cover a lot of ground up front created some promising chances.
"Jeong Woo-yeong was able to add some punch to the second line of attack, and he could also switch positions with other forwards on the fly," Hahn said. "Putting him into that position was a wise move."
Bento praised Jeong's "good attitude" during his 67 minutes of action.
"Jeong is a player with very good technical skills," Bento said. "He played a good game, understanding well what he had to do in both phases of the game."
Son had his moment to shine in the dying seconds, as he scored a free kick goal from just outside the box. The spot kick was awarded when Hwang was fouled in his dangerous foray into the area after taking a nifty back heel pass from Son.
"(The striker position) is a position he can play. He has already played with us in that position before," Bento said. "He has the capacity to go to the space, not just with wingers (but by himself). That's the strategy we had for this game."
Hwang In-beom, a versatile midfielder who has recently taken up an offensive role, handled a more defensive assignment Monday alongside Jung Woo-young. Jung had struggled mightily against the Brazilian onslaught last week. And though Chile, without some key veterans, didn't present nearly the same offensive threat, Bento wasn't going to take any chances.
For all the good work that midfielders and attackers did, South Korea still had nervy moments on defense.
South Korea had looked flustered against Brazil's high pressing last week, and Chile, apparently taking cues from the fellow South Americans, came out with some early pressure on the South Korean backline.
Center back Jung Seung-hyun and right back Kim Moon-hwan were new additions to the South Korean starting lineup. Though they made some smart outlet passes, they experienced much the same problems that the ones they'd replaced, Kim Yong-gwon and Lee Yong, had against Brazil.
Forward Benjamin Brereton Diaz had some dangerous moments, even after Chile went down a man seven minutes into the second half on Alex Ibacache's second yellow card. On top of that, Chile traveled here without some of their most successful veterans, such as Inter Milan duo of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal. Conceding scoring chances against such a compromised team borders on inexcusable for the World Cup-bound South Korea.
"At least (South Korea) tried to make adjustments after the Brazil loss, and the transition game was a lot better today," Hahn, the analyst, noted. "But the team was still exposed badly against high pressing. They need to be a bit more efficient on the attack as well."
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