Six-time champions Argentina are looking at an early exit from the FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea, after losses to England and the hosts left the side at the bottom of their group.
The team, coached by ex-Racing player Claudia Ubeda, got off to the worst possible start in last week’s Group A match, losing 3-0 to an England side that had not won a game in the tournament since 1997.
Despite dominating for long periods, the Albiceleste could not capitalise and were punished by England’s clinical finishing. To add insult to injury, striker Lautaro Martinez – Racing Club’s exciting young talent – was sent off with 15 minutes to go, after referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan referred to a video assistant official and deemed an apparent elbow on England defender Fikayo Tomori as a red-card offence.
Argentina remained as one of the tournament favorites despite the loss, however Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to hosts South Korea has added further doubt to their place in the tournament – they now need to beat Guinea and hope that results elsewhere will grant them an unlikely “best third-placed” spot in the next round.
Barcelona’s hotly tipped Lee Seung-woo opened the scoring for South Korea after just 18 minutes, skipping down the left before dinking the ball over goalkeeper Franco Petroli:
They didn’t call him the Messi of South Korea for nothing. Lee Seung-Woo’s showing Argentina’s youth side how to play gambeta style. pic.twitter.com/NBazEKJE1Y
— Sivan John (@SivanJohn_) May 23, 2017
A golazo that Messi himself would be proud of.
The hosts weren’t done, however, as Lee’s Barcelona teammate Paik Seung-ho slotted home from the penalty spot just before half-time, taking the score to 2-0. He had something to say, too, as he used his celebration to take a shot at Argentina legend Maradona – El Diez had celebrated after drawing Argentina into the same group as the hosts:
South Korea beat Argentina 2-1 yesterday. Goal-scorer Paik: “Where’s your paper?” pic.twitter.com/Sidx8rUmmY
— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) May 23, 2017
Argentina pushed on in the second-half and substitute Marcelo Torres gave the visitors hope just after half-time, but an equalizer never came.
“Argentina will carry on hoping”, said coach Ubeda after the match.
“There are no excuses, but in the two matches we’ve dominated and paid the price for lapses in concentration, which were decisive.”
Argentina face Guinea – who gained a point today after England gifted them a freakish 50-yard own goal – on Friday, while South Korea against England will decide top spot.