China’s “combat soccer” was no match for Huang Sunhongho’s formidable offense.
It was an embarrassment for Korean soccer, with defenders and goalkeepers splitting up in a skit.
Hwang Sun-hong’s men’s soccer team won their quarterfinal match against China 2-0 at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China on Monday (June 1). Goals from Hong Hyun-seok and Song Min-kyu in the first half gave the Koreans a two-goal lead, which they held on to despite China’s increasingly physical play in the second half.
The national team benched Lee Kang-in, who had started the previous two games, in favor of a 4-3-3, with Lee Kwang-yeon (Gangwon) in goal and Hwang Jae-won (Daegu), Park Jin-seop (Jeonbuk), Lee Han-beom (Mittwilan), and Park Kyu-hyun (Dresden) forming the back four. Hong Hyun-seok (Ghent), Baek Seung-ho (Jeonbuk), and Ko Young-joon (Pohang) played in the center. Up front, Cho Young-wook (Gimcheon) was in the center, flanked by Ahn Jae-joon (Bucheon) and Song Min-gyu (Jeonbuk).
They came out with a 5-4-1 formation led by Serbian coach Dejan Durdžić. For China, Han Zhiqi wore the goalkeeping gloves. Liu Yang, Zhu Tianji, Wang Zhenao, Zhang Wei, and Huang Jiahui were on the back line. Wang Haizhen, Halik Aboulahan, Tao Qianglong, and Dai Weizhun were in the midfield, with wildcard Tan Long alone on the attacking line.
Ahead of the game, there were many concerns about the game being played at home in China, the rough soccer, and the lack of a video assistant referee (VAR) system, which could lead to blown calls. This was compounded by North Korea’s rough play and biased refereeing in the South Korea-North Korea women’s soccer match on March 30, which resulted in a 1-4 loss for the South Korean team.
But Hwang Sun-hong was unperturbed and played the same attacking soccer that she had been playing throughout the tournament. The team scored nine goals in their first game against Kuwait, four in their second game against Thailand, and three in their third game against Bahrain, giving them 16 goals in the group stage alone. A five-goal outburst against Kyrgyzstan in the Round of 16 brought their tally to 21 goals in four games. To overcome China’s rough and tumble style of soccer, it was important to get the first goal early and open up the scoring, and that’s exactly what happened.레고토토
The goals came quickly. In the 18th minute, top Belgian midfielder Hong Hyun-seok scored from a free kick to silence the 50,000 fans in China. Hwang Jae-won joined the attack and won a foul on the right side of the penalty area. Baek Seung-ho and Hong Hyun-seok stood in front of the ball, and Hong’s long left-footed free kick rattled the top right corner of the Chinese goal. It was a goal Han Zhaqi knew he couldn’t stop.
After the goal, Hong Hyun-seok performed a hissing gesture to silence the Chinese crowd, sending Korean soccer fans into a frenzy. China managed to hold on with their defensive-minded formation, but they were unable to stop Hong’s knife-edge free kick and were left flustered.
China were completely disorganized after the 35th-minute goal. Ahn Jae-joon played a forward pass to Cho Young-wook, who was breaking down the right flank, and his crossing pass found its way between Han Zhiqi and the Chinese defense. Han Ji-Chi struck the ball away from Cho Young-Wook, but the ball hit the right foot of the onrushing Song Min-Gyu and rattled into the net.
Song celebrated with a windmill gesture, silencing the 50,000 fans in China once again.
Meanwhile, China showed early signs of collapse, with goalkeeper Han Zhiqi and defenders shouting at each other. The Chinese players weren’t even in a position to play combat soccer. The difference in individual skill was too great. As the game wore on, South Korea toyed with the Chinese defense, much to the chagrin of the 50,000 crowd.
China, who had no time to react to Korea’s flawless first half, showed some nerves in the 40th minute when Aboulahan stepped on Baek Seung-ho’s foot with the ball loose. They also started to fall behind Korea in the mercenary department, as Zhu Tianjie, who started the game with a left hamstring (back thigh muscle) injury, was forced to make a substitution in the 42nd minute, bringing on Huo Feng. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The ‘Chayo’ cheers that filled the stadium were silenced by the end of the first half. When the scoreboard read 2-0, the Chinese crowd seemed to have run out of steam.
After the second half started, China came out even more aggressive. The crowd continued to cheer as they came to their senses. They booed loudly when Korean players went down due to rough tackles by Chinese players.
But the difference in quality was stark. The Chinese kept trying to brawl, tripping and falling over Korean players, but the Koreans responded with their soccer skills and never let up. After Lee Kang-in came on midway through the second half, they were completely pinned down in their own half and pounded away.
In the 35th minute, three members of the Chinese coaching staff protested in the technical area, with one of them receiving a caution. They appeared to have a “mental breakdown” in the face of a hopeless performance. China made a number of substitutions in the second half, but it didn’t work for the team. The only way the Chinese players could stop the Taegeuk Warriors’ attacks or steal the ball was through rough and foul play.
South Korea silenced China’s 50,000 fans. It was a game that literally played with China’s combat soccer.