S. Korea beat Qatar 2-1 in football friendly in Austria

November 18, 2020

South Korea scored just 16 seconds after the opening kickoff, as they defeated Qatar 2-1 in a men’s football friendly match in Austria on Tuesday for their 500th international victory.

Forward Hwang Hee-chan set a record for the fastest goal in South Korean football history, as he capitalized on an early Qatar miscue at BSFZ Arena Admiral Stadium in Maria Enzersdorf, near Vienna. After Qatar equalized, Hwang Ui-jo netted the go-ahead marker in the 36th.

Hwang Ui-jo of South Korea (R) celebrates his goal against Qatar with teammate Son Heung-min during a friendly football match at BSFZ Arena Admiral Stadium in Maria Enzersdorf, Austria, on Nov. 17, 2020, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Son Heung-min of South Korea (C) is grabbed by Pedro Miguel (L) and Tarek Salman of Qatar during a friendly football match at BSFZ Arena Admiral Stadium in Maria Enzersdorf, Austria, on Nov. 17, 2020, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Lee Jae-sung of South Korea (C) avoids the tackle by Tarek Salman of Qatar (L) during a friendly football match at BSFZ Arena Admiral Stadium in Maria Enzersdorf, Austria, on Nov. 17, 2020, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Hwang Hee-chan of South Korea (C) battles Abdelkarim Hassan of Qatar (R) for the ball during a friendly football match at BSFZ Arena Admiral Stadium in Maria Enzersdorf, Austria, on Nov. 17, 2020, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Hwang Ui-jo of South Korea (R) celebrates his goal against Qatar with teammate Son Heung-min during a friendly football match at BSFZ Arena Admiral Stadium in Maria Enzersdorf, Austria, on Nov. 17, 2020, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This was only the second international match for South Korea in 2020, a season turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, and their first victory that followed a 3-2 loss to Mexico from Saturday.

The match was played following a COVID-19 outbreak within the South Korean team. Six Korean players tested positive for the virus over the weekend, leaving Paulo Bento’s team with only 19 players. According to FIFA regulations, a match may still be played during the pandemic as long as a team has 13 healthy players, including a goalkeeper.

Right after the opening kickoff, Boualem Khoukhi mishandled the ball deep in his own zone and got his pocket picked by Hwang Ui-jo, who rolled the ball to the wide open Hwang Hee-chan. The former Austrian league player scored into the gaping net for one of the easiest goals of his career.

But Qatar regrouped and completely dominated South Korea over the next half hour. Forward Almoez Ali leveled the score in the ninth minute, after receiving a pass from Tarek Salman that split the defense.

In the 17th, fellow forward Ahmed Alaaedin had a good look at the net from inside the box and rolled his shot just wide of the left post. Three minutes later, Alaaedin controlled the ball on the right wing and cut to the middle for a hard shot, with Gu Sung-yun making a huge save in the Korean net.

Gu had to hold his ground again at the half-hour mark to deny Hassan Al-Haydos a chance to put Qatar ahead.

And it was South Korea that got the second goal, as friends Son Heung-min and Hwang Ui-jo connected for a second straight match.

On the left flank, midfielder Lee Jae-sung sent Son in deep with a deft through ball, and Son sent a low cross for Hwang, who redirected the pass into the net.

Son also set up Hwang for South Korea’s first goal against Mexico.

South Korea looked porous on defense at times in the first half, and their midfielders had difficulty against Qatar’s quick transition.

The backline got its act together in the second half and the offense also looked crisper, though they failed to add to their narrow lead.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced before the kickoff that infected players and team medical staff will be flown back home on a chartered flight. They’re currently being quarantined in their hotel rooms in Vienna.

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