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By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea have advanced to the semifinals at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, moving within a win of reaching the championship match for the second consecutive tournament.
Choi Seok-hyun headed in the match's only goal early in extra time, as South Korea knocked off Nigeria 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the tournament at Santiago del Estero Stadium in Santiago del Estero, northern Argentina, on Sunday (local time).
Coached by Kim Eun-jung, South Korea will take on Italy in the semifinals at La Plata Stadium in La Plata, eastern Argentina. The kickoff is 6 p.m. Thursday local time, or 6 a.m. Friday in South Korea.
South Korea finished as the runners-up to Ukraine at the previous U-20 World Cup in 2019. The 2021 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Korea have not won a FIFA title at a men's tournament. In 2010, South Korea won the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup title.
South Korea did not register a shot attempt until stoppage time in the first half. Nigeria attempted seven shots and handily won the possession battle, with Victor Eletu and Salim Lawal knocking on the South Korean door in the opening 45 minutes.
Nigeria continued to dominate the run of play in the second half and they had answers to South Korea's counterattack attempts.
The teams remained scoreless after 90 minutes, with South Korea unable to put any shot on target.
South Korea finally solved Nigeria about five minutes into the extra period. Captain Lee Seung-won took a corner, and Choi soared to meet it with his head and redirect the ball into the far corner, past the helpless goalkeeper Kingsley Aniagboso.
It was South Korea's first shot on target in the match.
"Lee Seung-won took a perfect cross, and I just had to put my head on it," Lee said afterward. "I can't even describe how happy I feel right now. We knew this was going to be a tough match physically, and it feels great to get the job done. Now we'll try to prepare for Italy the best we can."
Choi, a former forward, has now scored a header goal in two consecutive matches. He is tied for the team lead with two goals in this tournament.
Nigeria failed to respond, though Umeh Emmanuel had a couple of dangerous looks from close range.
Nigeria attempted 22 shots to South Korea's four. The African side led their Asian foes in most other offensive categories, but South Korea had the edge in the only category that mattered: the final score.
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