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Northern Ireland 2-1 South Korea: Late Smyth goal secures hard-fought victory at Windsor Park

Daniel Orme in Editorial, General Soccer News 24 Mar 2018

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Paul Smyth made a huge impact on his Northern Ireland debut, scoring against South Korea after only 194 seconds after being introduced from the substitutes bench.

The 20-year-old fired home with only four minutes left on the clock to snatch victory for Michael O’Neill’s men. Kwon Changhoon had given the South Korean’s the perfect start at Windsor Park as he struck in only the seventh minute. Kim Minjae inadvertently dragged the hosts level as he put through his own net from a free-kick before Smyth struck the winner in the 86th minute.

Strong South Korean start

The visitors were positive straight from kick-off in Belfast and were deservedly ahead within the opening ten minutes. Son Heungmin played an excellent through-ball to Changhoon. The 23-year-old took a touch and finished powerfully beyond Trevor Carson.

Spurs man Son could have doubled the advantage but on this occasion, Carson reacted excellent to palm the former Bayer Leverkusen’s forward’s effort away from goal.

Northern Ireland did present some problems however and Jamie Ward thought he had equalised as he stabbed home. The referee however ruled out the strike due to offside.

Hosts fight back

The hosts hit back mid-way through the first-half and it was somewhat against the run of play. Fantastic combination play between George Saville and Ward saw the latter play a quick one-two with Jordan Jones before putting in a dangerous low cross that was smashed into the net by Kim.

Josh Magennis could have flipped the tie on its head only minutes into the second-period but his shot was deflected over by South Korean stopper Seunggyu Kim.

Visitors end strongly but Smyth snatches victory

Michael O’Neill’s men had to resist plenty of pressure in the closing stages and the visitors twice had the chance to score a winner in the closing minutes. Jaesung Lee had an effort from distance and the ball appeared to take a deflection, diverting it towards the corner. Derby goalkeeper though made an excellent stop to keep the scores level.

Shin Tae-yong’s men continued to press and it was Lee again who tried his luck. His effort though was deflected again and bounced just wide of the post.

Former Linfield and current Queens Park Rangers striker Smyth was introduced from the substitutes bench in the 82nd minute. Barely two-and-a-half minutes later, he controlled and snatched the victory with an expert, low finish on his international debut.

Final Thoughts

The headlines will no doubt be snatched by Smyth for his fantastic contribution, taking the victory. However, it was by no means a vintage performance from O’Neill’s men. South Korea presented a formidable opponent and created plenty of opportunities to find the net.

Northern Ireland’s defending though was fantastic and should be praised. As a matter of fact, it was due to their defending that they were able to claim victory.

South Korea next travel to Poland on Tuesday evening for an international friendly whilst Northern Ireland are not in action again until May.

Match Report

Northern Ireland: Carson (6); Evans (6) (Cathcart (6), 68′), McAuley (7), Hughes (6) (McLaughlin (7), 18′); Lewis (7), Evans (6) (Boyce (6), 62′), Saville (8), Norwood (6) (McNair (6), 71′), Jones (7) (Smyth (7), 82′); Ward (7) (Washington (6), 62′), Magennis (7).

South Korea: Seung-Gyu Kim (6); Min Jae Kim (5) (Min-Woo Kim (7), 35′), Jin-Su Kim (6), Yong Lee (6), Jang (6); Ki (6) (Jung (6), 67′), Park (7) (Lee (6), 68′), Kwon (8) (Hwang (7), 62′), Jae Sung Lee (7); Son (8) (Yeom (6), 75′), Shin-Wook Kim (7).

Goals: Kwon (7′), Kim OG (20′), Smyth (86′)

Yellow Cards: N/A

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is a football journalism graduate from the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately six years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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