“It was a match that can be analysed in the same way as against England. There are no excuses but in both matches we dominated and paid dearly for mistakes,” Argentina under-20 coach Claudio Úbeda said after his side slumped to a second defeat of the tournament against hosts South Korea.
Without a point from the opening two matches, Argentina must now beat Guinea on Friday and hope that results in other groups mean a spot in the last 16 as one of the best third-placed side is possible. Despite Úbeda remaining hopeful, Los Pibes appear on the brink of another failure at youth level.
The beleaguered coach is right that for large parts of the game, just as against England, Argentina were the better side and saw plenty of the ball but that didn’t convert into chances and a fragile defence was again exposed.
Los Pibes started the game brightly but were undone by Barcelona academy product Lee Seungwoo, who darted past Gonzalo Montiel, leaving the Argentina defence in his wake before clipping the ball over Franco Petroli after 18 minutes.
Moments before half time things got worse for Argentina as a long ball over the top caught Marcos Senesi on his heels and with Cho Youngwook in behind, the Korean striker was clattered by Petroli.
Lee Seungwoo’s Barcelona teammate Paik Seungho sent the River Plate goalkeeper the wrong way and the hosts were cruising into the last 16.
Úbeda threw caution to the wind at the break and introduced Brian Mansilla and Marcelo Torres, the Boca Juniors striker providing an instant impact with a smart finish after being slipped in by Santiago Colombatto but despite dominating the second half, Argentina were unable to find another.
La Albicelete needed a couple of late goals at the Sudamericano to even reach the World Cup but in Ecuador, the suspended Lautaro Martínez was the saviour; in Jeonju there wasn’t another.
Martínez will be back for Friday’s clash with Guinea but even a decisive victory is unlikely to be enough to send Los Pibes through.
South Korea: Song Bumkeun; Lee Youhyeon, Jeong Taewook, Lee Sangmin, Yoon Jongyu; Kim Seungwoo; Paik Seungho (Lim Minhyeok), Lee Jinhyun (Ha Seungun), Lee Sangheon (Lee Seungmo), Lee Seungwoo; Cho Youngwook
Argentina: Franco Petroli; Gonzalo Montiel (Matías Zaracho), Juan Foyth, Marcos Senesi, Milton Valenzuela; Santiago Ascacibar, Santiago Colombatto; Tomás Conechny, Exequiel Palacios (Marcelo Torres), Lucas Rodríguez (Brian Mansilla); Ezequiel Ponce