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November 15, 2013

Korea upsets Swiss in soccer friendly 2-1

Korea’s national football team players celebrate after a 2-1 victory against Switzerland in a friendly match between the two countries at Seoul World Cup Stadium, Friday. / Yonhap

Korea’s national football team players celebrate after a 2-1 victory against Switzerland in a friendly match between the two countries at Seoul World Cup Stadium, Friday. (Yonhap)

Korea stunned Switzerland with a 2-1 victory in a friendly match, erasing an early deficit in a spirited second half.

At Seoul World Cup Stadium Bolton Wanderers winger Lee Chung-yong headed in the go-ahead goal in the 86th minute, as the 56th-ranked hosts upset the world No. 7. Korea’s record under head coach Hong Myung-bo has now improved to 3-3-3.

It was the first clash between the two countries since Switzerland defeated Korea 2-0 in the final Group G match at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The loss knocked Korea out of the tournament, while Switzerland advanced to the round of 16.

Korean midfielder Lee Chung-yong celebrates after scoring the match-winner in the 86th minute of a football friendly match between Korea and Switzerland at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, Friday. Korea claimed a 2-1 victory in the first clash between the two countries since Switzerland defeated Korea 2-0 in the final Group G match at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. / Yonhap

Korean midfielder Lee Chung-yong celebrates after scoring the match-winner in the 86th minute of a football friendly match between Korea and Switzerland at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, Friday. Korea claimed a 2-1 victory in the first clash between the two countries since Switzerland defeated Korea 2-0 in the final Group G match at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. (Yonhap)

This was also Korea’s final friendly match at home this year. The country will next take on the 19th-ranked Russia in Dubai on Tuesday for its last international contest of 2013.

The home side came out of the gate with more energy, but Switzerland struck first in the sixth minute. Pajtim Kasami stole Lee Yong’s clearance attempt in midfield and sprinted toward the net, firing his shot under the hands of diving goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu.

Korea had a goal disallowed on an offside call in the 13th minute. Kim Shin-wook, the 196-centimeter striker, headed in a lengthy free kick by Ki Sung-yueng from midfield, but was ruled to have been behind the Swiss defense on the play.

Switzerland nearly doubled the lead in the 22nd, when forward Haris Seferovic took a long outlet pass and broke in alone on Kim Seung-gyu. The Korean goalie stood his ground this time and kept out Seferovic’s arcing shot.

The Koreans controlled the pace to open the second half, and their efforts finally bore fruit in the 58th, when Hong Jeong-ho, the 188-centimeter defender, dashed toward the net and jumped above a crowd of Swiss players to head in Ki’s corner from the left.

It was Hong’s first international goal in 21 matches.

Lee Chung-yong then sealed the deal for the hosts, jumping over Gokhan Inler to head in a picture-perfect cross by Lee Keun-ho, also from the left. Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio stood frozen and helplessly watched the ball get past him and into the net.

Lee almost picked up his second goal in injury time, but Benaglio this time made a diving save on a curling shot from the left corner of the box.

Following Hong’s equalizer, Lee had almost given Korea a lead in the 71st. He intercepted a pass in midfield and penetrated deep into the Swiss zone, but his shot was deflected out by two opposing defenders.

Though he didn’t score a goal, forward Kim Shin-wook was also the offensive spark plug for Korea. In the 55th, Kim took a feed from midfield and deftly set up the charging Lee Chung-yong, whose shot from the edge of the box was barely kept out by Benaglio.

Two minutes later, Kim sent a perfect cross for the head of Lee Keun-ho, but Benaglio was there to punch it clear.

A flustered Switzerland spent the majority of the second half fending off the feisty Koreans, and barely mounted any challenge against the Korean goal.

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