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Lee Kang-In's freak free kick works again at U20 World Cup

Lee Kang-in passes to Hong Hyun-seok without taking a direct kick
Assisted Choi Jun against Ecuador in 2019

Hwang Seon-hong scored an invaluable goal against Uzbekistan in the fourth round of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games with an unorthodox free kick that utilized Lee Kang-in. In the 2019 U-20 World Cup quarterfinals, the penalty kick came into play again.

Head coach Hwang Sun-hong's men's national team rode a multi-goal performance from Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart) to a 2-1 victory over Uzbekistan in the men's football semifinal at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China on Thursday (9 p.m. ET).

The opening goal was the highlight of the match. Free kick kicker Lee Kang-in flicked the ball to the side and Hong Hyun-seok picked it up and played it into the space behind the Uzbek defense. Uhm Won-sang, who was rushing to the right side of the penalty box, connected it with a one-touch cross, and Jung Woo-young, who was in the doorway, put his right foot on it for the goal.

The unexpected development caught Uzbekistan off guard, as they were closely packed in the box, and Lee Kang-in's sharp kick led to the Korean goal.

The scene was reminiscent of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinal against Ecuador in Poland on June 12, 2019.

South Korea, trailing Ecuador 0-0, scored the game-winning goal in the 39th minute of the first half.

Lee Kang-in, who took the free kick near the center line, unexpectedly delivered a ground ball to Choi Joon, who rattled the Ecuadorian goal with an unstoppable right-footed shot from inside the penalty box.

Even at that time, the Ecuadorian defense was gathered at the gate, expecting Lee to take a long kick into the box. As the Ecuadorian defenders scrambled for Choi, the goal had already been scored.

Lee Kang-in utilized a deflected free kick to score a goal in another important tournament in more than four years. Lee's kicking ability seems to be helping the team both directly and indirectly.

It will be interesting to see if Lee's influence can help Korea win the gold medal in the Asian Games final against Japan.
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Friday, October 6, 2023

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