Korea Republic hit the ground running at the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Mali in Bogota. Kim Kyung Jung and Jang Hyun Soo got the goals for the Asians, who improved their chances of progressing from a highly competitive Group A.
Rain may have delayed kick-off for an hour, but Korea Republic quickly got down to business thereafter, with Lee Ki Je curling in a fierce free-kick from 40 metres which goalkeeper Cheick Abdul Cadry Sy tipped over the bar. Mali quickly found themselves on the counter, and Amara Malle fired a shot from inside the area, but Yang Han Been punched it away.
Lee again proved to be the South Koreans best threat with a curling free-kick on 12 minutes, but this time his effort narrowly sailed over the crossbar. Despite those chances, the Asians were troubled consistently by Kalifa Coulibaly at the other end. The playmaker served in two successive chances for Cheick Fanta Mady Diarra and Malle respectively, but each of their chances were off target.
After the break, Korea Republic proved the side more content on breaking the deadlock. Five minutes after the restart, Kim Kyung Jung caught the end of a long-range throw-in from Rim Chang Woo inside the area, and from five metres had no trouble tapping it home.
With more convincing approach in the attack, the Asians had two more chances go begging as set-piece specialist Lee fired just wide of the post and Baek Sung Dong shot crosswise of the goal.
Mali were searching for an equaliser, but missed chances from Malle and Diarra would come to haunt the West Africans. After successive attempts from Malians, the Koreans put the game beyond doubt with a counter-attack on 80 minutes.
Baek Sung Dong dribbled down the right flank and was fouled in the area, drawing a penalty and Jang Hyun Soo made no mistake from the spot. The three points will be a welcomed cushion as Korea Republic prepare to face France on 2 August, while Mali hope to rebound against Colombia the same day.