Italy vs South Korea, summary: Pafundi, score, goals and highlights | U20 World Cup
U20 World Cup: Italy vs South Korea | As it happened
A late free kick from Simeone Pafundi fired Italy to the final of the U20 World Cup for the first time in their history.
The Italians faced an impressive South Korea side who had beaten the likes of France and Nigeria on the way to the final four. Italy started the semi-final as the more dominant of the two teams and broke the deadlock after 13 minutes.
Italy midfielder Cesare Casadei scored his seventh goal in six matches, all-but securing himself as the Golden Boot winner.
But Carmine Nunziata's side did not have it all their own way and Korea equalised late on in the first half with a penalty, converted by captain Lee Seong-won.
Italy started the second half as the stronger of the two sides but after failing to find a second they began to tire. As the game entered the final ten minutes Korea looked like the team most likely to find a winner.
Enter Simeone Pafundi, the 17-year-old midfielder from Udinese. One of the youngest players at the tournament, within minutes of entering the fray he fired a brilliant free kick into the top corner to nudge his side into the lead.
Italy managed the final moments excellently and were probably deserved winners over the course of the 90 minutes. Heartbreak for Korea, but history made by Italy and their young star.
Cesare Casadei wraps up the Golden Boot
The stunning introduction of Simeone Pafundi will make headlines but Italy's opener against South Korea came courtesy of Cesare Casadei, the midfielder's seventh goal in six appearances at this tournament.
The Chelsea youngster spent last season on loan at Championship side Reading but he could well be playing regularly in the Premier League next year.
The U20 World Cup is a tournament designed to help unearth the most exciting young players on the planet. Italy's 17-year-old midfielder Simeone Pafundi burst onto the scene with a stunning late free kick to secure a place in the final.
The Udinese starlet was dropped from the team in recent games, but showed his worth in the semi-final win over South Korea.
When is the U20 World Cup final?
After a fascinating day of footballing action, we now know the identity of the two teams in the U20 World Cup final. Uruguay beat a spirited Israel earlier today and Italy proceed at the expense of South Korea.
That sets up the U20 World Cup final between Uruguay and Italy on Sunday, 11th June. Don't miss it!
Pafundi, Italy's diamond
When Italian coach Carmine Nunziata readied a triple substitution on the 80th minute he did so because Korea were in the ascendency. Italy looked to be tiring and were in need of an injection of fresh impetus.
That's certainly what Udinese starlet Simeone Pafundi brought to proceedings. The 17-year-old's free kick flew into the South Korea net and booked his team's place in the World Cup final against Uruguay.
The Italian players embrace on the pitch after a hard-fought win over a dangerous Korea side. Italy dominated the ball for much of the game but struggled to make the breakthrough needed.
Step forward 17-yea-old midfielder Simeone Pafundi. The young midfielder was brought on with ten minutes remaining and his inch-perfect free kick gave his side the lead and took his nation to the final of the U20 World Cup.
A fascinating game, a brilliant story and a new star of Italian football is made before our eyes.
Full time! Italy are in the World Cup final
The Azzurri defend the final long ball and the full time whistle goes. Italy have done it, they are in the U20 World Cup final for the first time in their history!
A final chance now as Korea win a free kick on the halfway line. This is it...
The ball is punted forward yet again but Young-jun's flick-on runs safely through to the goalkeeper. There is not long to go now, and Italy are in possession of the ball.
The ball is long and Pafundi does enough to ensure that it rolls harmlessly out of play on the far side. There are desperate gestures from the Korean coaching staff now as they wait for the ball to re-enter play.
Two minutes to go...
A long ball forward results in a Korea header. The noise builds in anticipation, what can they conjure here?
Korea are struggling to build any momentum in the final minutes. Italy have done a good job of slowing things down and breaking up the play.
The ball is pumped forward by Joon-hong and repelled by an Italy head.
Six minutes of added time
Can South Korea do it? Italy and looking to kill the game now, can they see it out?
It's a thrilling finish to an exicting game.
There's a late chance for Korea as they push in search of a goal in the final minutes. There are going to have to go a little more direct here, but in the 6ft4 stature of Young-jun they have a real target.
Despite still being just 17, Simeone Pafundi has been a little frustrated with his lack of minutes so far in this tournament. Well he was given his chance with ten minutes of normal time remaining and he may well have sent his team to the final of the World Cup.
It was a brilliant free kick, a strike as good as anything we've seen in this tournament. The Udinese midfielder may be the matchwinner for Italy.
Incredible stuff! He's just come onto the pitch but 17-year-old Pafundi and whipped the ball into the top corner to give his side the lead! What a hit!
Cynical foul on the edge of the Korea box as Hyun-bin hacks down the onrushing Ambrosino.
Chance for a shot on target now... Great opportunity.
Glorious chance for Young-jun, the Korean number nine! Yet again it comes from Jun-ho on the wing with a neat pull back, but the striker fires well over.
Let's see how Italy adapt to the new personnel after that triple change. One of the incomers, Pafundi, is aged just 17. What a stage for him to enter.
Giovane, Baldanzi and Esposito are coming off.
Fontanarosa, Motevago and Pafundi to replace them.
Italy look to be making a triple substitution here. Carmine Nunziata has clearly noticed the fall in energy levels in his team and taking action. Let's see who it is.
Incidentally, the turf is really starting to cut up now. Large patches in the middle of the pitch are covered in divots and the surface is almost as brown as it is green.
It looks tiring to play on. Maybe that's contributed to the Italian drop-off.
Italy have struggled to keep the ball in the past few minutes. Korea still look as sharp as ever but Italy has definitely dropped off the pace slightly.
Is it tiredness? A lull in their game? Or just more attacking intent from the Koreans?
It's hard to say, but we're in for a thrilling end to the game here.
Just a quarter of an hour of normal time remaining now and it really is anyone's game. In both halves Italy have dominated the opening stages but the threat of Korea's forwards on the break continues to create chances.
Who will make themselves a hero?
Absolutely brilliant run from Jun-ho!
The nippy winger beats three or four Italian defenders and scampers into the box. He gets to the byline and prods the ball into the centre but there's no one there to convert.
Good save from Joon-hung to repel a Baldanzi free kick. He slaps the ball out of danger and its cleared for a corner.
Baldanzi takes that too but the result is less exciting. Free kick to Korea.
The 18-year-old centre back is the first Korean player booked tonight, sything down Casadei on the edge of the box. Chance for Italy to deliver from wide here.
No surprise, the right back is off to avoid a second booking. Let's see if that changes anything.
Free kick from Korea is swung into the Italy box but punched clear by Desplanches. And it will be a substitution now...
Brilliant again from Jun-ho once again on the left. He twists and turns before flicking the ball between Zanotti's legs. The struggling fullback blocks the winger as he looks to dart down the wing and a foul is given.
Zanotti has already been booked for doing the exact same thing at least four times in the first half. You sense that he may soon to substituted, for his own protection.
Chance! South Korea
So nearly a goal! Korea have had little of the ball this half but they still maintain that threat on the break.
A quick counter ended with the ball squared into the box for Korean captain Seung-won, who connects well with the cross. He starts to celebrate but Desplanches makes a good save to push it wide.
Well defended by Korea to clear. Italy hurl the ball back into the box but Joon-hung is out well to claim the ball.
Just past the hour mark, still 1-1.
It's another corner to Italy. Let's see if they try that again.
There was definitely an attempt to crowd the six-yard box and make life difficult for the keeper last time.
No goal! The Korean stopper did indeed keep the ball out of the net.
The chance came from a corner routine that looked to play on Joon-hong's struggles with crosses so far. The ball zipped across a packed six-yar box but the keeper managed to keep it out.
What a save from Joon-hong!
The Korean goalkeeper has not covered himself in glory so far but he makes a brilliant instinctive save to keep a header at bay.
Or does he? The incident is going to VAR, was it over the line?!
The Italian forward line is starting to click now. Neat interplay from Baldanzi and Ambrosino allows them to evade the Korean defenders and the latter fires in another low shot.
Italy haven't quite managed to connect with any of these attempts yet. But if the game continues in this manner it can only be a matter of time.
Italian midfielder Giovane darts clear of the opposition and works some space on the edge of the box. His how shot is blocked by the Korean goalkeeper and safely gathered at the second attempt.
Italy are definitely in the ascendency now. Can they make the most of these openings?
Italian left back Turicchia has quietly impressed so far and he flies forward again to latch onto a through ball. He fires the left-footed drive low and hard at goal.
Joon-hong can't keep hold of it but the ball squirms clear of danger.
The pace of the game does seem to have slowed slight in the opening minutes of the second half. Towards the end of the first 45 it was a frenetic pace but it looks as though the break has calmed both sides down.
Neat play from Baldanzi to work himself some space on the edge of the Korea box but his shot goes well, well over the bar. Comically high.
No changes for either team at the break. It's looks like Italy will continue to dominate the ball, while Korea will seek to hit them on the counter.
And we're back
We're underway for the second half, a place in the World Cup final up for grabs! Which side will make history?
It'll be interesting to see if Italy decide to make a chage at the break. They have played well offensively but the ease with which Jun-ho has skipped past Zanotti will be a real cause for concern.
Most worryingly for the Italian coaching staff, Zanotti is now on a booking after hauling down the left winger one-too-many times. Will Carmine Nunziata be tempted to remove him from the theatre of conflict and avoid the risk of a red card? Let's see...
Top stuff from both sides in the opening 45 minutes. It looked like Italy were going to dominate after the early stages, especially when top scorer Casadei gave his side the lead after 15 minutes.
Italy certainly had more of the possession but Korea were not without attacking intend and their direct running and neat interplay caused problem. Korea's equaliser came from a long through, lofted hopefully in the box, that caused panic in the Italian defence.
After a coming together in the box the referee was advised to check VAR and he awarded a penalty. Korea's captain, Seong-won, kept his cool to fire home.
We're all square at half time after a thrilling opening 45 minutes. Both sides have had chances and the game has been played with real intensity.
More of that after the break please.
It's a good cross but one well defended by Italy. They clear and are immediately on the attack with Ambrosino!
He sprints clear on the left but cuts back into trouble on the edge of the box and is crowded out. The game in a microcosm, there.
Free kick to South Korea. At least 35 yards out and on the angle, it's going to be a cross...
Finally Zanotti is booked for a desperate foul on Jun-ho, who skips past him once again. This time the full back nearly removes the Korean's shirt in an attempt to stop him.
Now that he's on a booking you sense that Korea will target that flank in the second 45.
It's opening up now!
Ambrosino works some space on the left and whips in a cross. The ball is flicked on by Baldanzi and Casadei is nearly there at the back post to convert. Once again, Casadei's drifting runs are a real threat here.
Seven minutes' added time
I told you it had been a fiesty opening 45 minutes. Seven minutes added on, can either team make the most of it?
Move of the game from SOuth Korea but they can't convert. Once again it comes from the direct running of Jun-ho on the left flank, who finds himself in behind the backline.
The ball is pulled back in the Italian box and Yong-hak is there to meet the ball. He swings wildly and his effort flies over the crossbar. What a chance to take the lead!
It's a pretty fiesty game, this one. Both teams have looked to be direct when the chance arises and both defences have been forced to make some pretty cynical fouls.
Just a few minutes until the half time break now. Which side will be most happy, I wonder.
Free kick for Italy now in a good position to deliver into the box. Baldanzi takes the kick from a position on the left but his miscues the cross badly.
Or maybe he's taken an outrageous shot from distance. Either way, it's safely captured by the arms of Joon-hong.
For the third time in the past ten minute, Zanotti pulls down Jun-ho and for the third time he avoids a booking. The Italian right-back has been lucky to get away with a yellow card but it can't last much longer, surely?
Jun-ho does well again for Korea on the left. Italy have enjoyed more of the ball in the opening 37 minutes but the quality of Jun-ho's wingplay will be cause for concern for Italian coach Nunziata at the break.
A high foot from Ambrosino on Seok-hyun leaves the Korea defender on the floor, clutching his face. No malice in the challenge from the Italian from a clear foul, resulting in a bit of a scuffle on the edge of the box.
Pretty cynical foul from Ambrosino in the middle of the pitch there. Korea win the free kick and play the ball out wide to Jun-ho on the left flank, who skips past Zanotti. The Italian right back desperately claws after the winger and gives away a foul.
And Korea are on the attack, with pace, flying towards the Italian backline. Big target man Young-jun does well the keep the ball moving out wide but the Korean cross is headed away by Italy.
Another bad misjudgement from Korean keeper Joon-hong as he flaps at a cross. It bounces around in the box but Korea manage to clear.
Powerful running down the left from Baldanzi gets Italy on the front foot again. He squares the ball for Ambrosino but he struggles to find the space for a shot and ends up miscuing his effort well wide of the target.
Both teams are looking to play forward very quickly when they get the chance - possible a consequence of the poor surface - and it's making for a very exciting game.
Bit of an injury worry for South Korea now as their captain, and goalscorer, Seung-won is hobbling around on the halfway line. He's not gone down, but is clearly in a bit of discomfort here. We'll keep you posted on the Korean skipper.
There's a bit of a spring in the Koreans' step now, they're pressing up a little higher and looking to take the game to the Italians. It funny what a goal can do to the complexion of a game, isn't it.
And just like that, Italy recover and are back on the attack themselves! Two goals after 25 minutes, how many more will there be?
It's a brilliantly penalty from Seung-won considering the pressure of the occasion. Just as Italy were starting to get on top the Korean captain levels things. He smashed the ball high into the top left corner to equalise.
Yes he can! The Korean captain fires high into the top corner to level the tie. What a semi-final we have underway!
It's Korean captain Seung-won to take it. He's having a little trouble locating the spot amongst the bobbles and divots in the turf.
Bit of a scuffle on the edge of the box to delays things a little further...
It's a penalty!
Sensational stuff at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata!
The referee waved away the appeals but has now reversed his decision. South Korea have the opportunity to draw level from the spot. That long throw caused chaos in the Italy backline.
The ref's been called over to take a look at the screen. The VAR official clearly thinks there is something worth considering here, what will he give?
Back to the game, Korea have a chance to utilised the long throw of Yong-hak.
It's into the mixer... Jun-ho goes down under a clumsy tackle in the box, but referee waves away appeals for a penalty.
An update on Casadei's record at this tournament then...
The Italy midfielder has now scored seven goals and is just 15 minutes into his sixth game. With the Brazilian forward Marcos Leonardo already eliminated, the Italian must surely win the Golden Boot now.
A brilliant finish from the young Chelsea star there. Italy did well to win the ball on the edge of the Korean box and were clinical with it. Ambrosino darted inside and squared the ball for Casadei.
Despite the poor pitch, Casadei was confident enough to take the shot on first time and his side footed effort flew into the top corner. What a tournament he's having!
Guess who?! It's Cesare Casadei once again, the Italian midfielder bagging his seventh of the tournament.
Korean retake the ball and look to get an attack going down the left with the pacey Jun-ho on the left flank. He can't quite latch onto the through ball, but it's a warning for Italy.
Italy are enjoying a spell of pretty comfortable possession now, playing the ball neatly around the defence but without really posing any real threat. Korea standing strong.
First opening for Italy as Baldanzi who fires in a low shot that's comfortably saved. It was neat footwork from Italian talisman Casadei to start the move, with a neat interplay on the edge of the box finding Baldanzi running through.
More good defending this time from central defender Seok-hyun. The ball is recycled by Italy, however, and a ball whipped in towards the head of Ambosino. He couldn't direct his header on target.
Good work from Yong-hak on the right for Korea, battling back to prevent an Italian attack.
That work rate out-of-possession will be crucial if they are to succeed tonight, they have only had the greater share of the ball in one of their five games at this tournament so far.
Shaky from the Korea keeper! Joon-kong misjudged the flight of the ball there and complete misses his attempted punch. Luckily for him the ball fall to a Korean defender and was able to clear.
Italy are on the attack with a long ball played down the left flank to Ambrosini. He dogged chases after and manages to win his side a corner. The first of the game. Let's see if Italy can cause this imposing Korean defence some problems.
The pitch in La Plata isn't in the best condition, clearly feeling the consequences of a series of tournament matches in quick succession. Patches around the penalty spots and centre circle are decidedly brownish. Will that affect the slick passing moves favoured by the Italians?
And we're off
We're underway in Estadio Ciudad de La Plata. Let's see who makes it through to the final.
There's not long to go now...
Both teams are in position on the pitch. We're nearly underway, 90 minutes to make yourself a hero for every player out there...
Time for the anthems
Italy, as the 'home' nation today, get us started with a rousing rendition. A more sombre tone from the Koreans now, all of whom stand with hands on their hearts, or saluting the flag.
The players are out!
We're nearly ready for kick off at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, where Italy face South Korea. Both sides have impressed this tournament but only one can meet Uruguay in the final this week.
The players are out in front of an expectant crowd. Just five minutes to go now...
One to watch: Cesare Casadei
One name you will probably hear plenty of tonight and in the not-too-distant future is that of Cesare Casadei, the Italian midfielder who has taken this tournament by storm. The Chelsea youngster captains his nation and is set to win the Golden Boot, from midfield!
The 20-year-old has scored six goals so far and has at least one game still to play. He has played in every minute of Italy's games so far and is scoring at a rate of more than one per game.
We'll be bringing you all the action from Estadio Cuidad de La Plata as Italy face South Korea in the second semi-final of the 2023 U20 World Cup. If, however, you would rather watch the action live there are a number of ways to do so.
Here's how to watch or stream Italy vs South Korea...
Italy name an unchanged side
Just a little note on the Italian team, the starting XI is unchanged from their 3-1 win over Colombia in the quarter-final. We expect that they will once again line up in a 4-3-3 with a fluid frontline. Number ten Baldanzi tends to drop behind Esposito and Ambrosino, allowing him space to link the play between the lines.
And here's how Italy line up...
After a slight delay, here's the starting XI named by Italy coach Carmine Nunziata. Less than 45 minutes until kick off now.
Will Young-Jun make the difference for South Korea?
South Korea have played some delightful football on their way to today's semi-final clash against Italy, but they also have the physicality to mix it with anyone in the competition. Central to that has been the presence of Lee Young-Jun, the 6ft4 striker from Gimcheon Sangmu.
Still no news on the Italy team
Usually the starting XI is released at least one hour before kick-off but there is no news from the Italian camp as of yet. Just over 45 minutes to go at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, we'll bring you the Azzurri team news as soon as we get it
South Korea starting XI to face Italy
With little over an hour to go until kick off at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, here's the South Korea team for the semi-final. Powerful striker Lee Youngjun retains his place up front and will like to unsettle the Italian backline from the start.
Italy squad prepares for massive semi-final
There's little over an hour to go until kick off in La Plata. For both teams, reaching the final would be a huge achievement and one that could provide a huge boost for their young careers. Yesterday the Italians trained at the campus of Argentinian side San Lorenzo.
Ahead of the quarter-final fixtures Italy's Cesare Casadei made our list of the five players to watch in the latter stages of this tournament. The Chelsea starlet has impressed throughout and currently leads to scoring charts at the U20 World Cup.
The midfielder has scored six times in just five games already, and will be looking to add to that incredible tally today against South Korea.
Who will face Uruguay in the final?
Just minutes ago Uruguay secured the first place in the final with a hard-fought win over Israel. Competing in the U20 World Cup for the first time, this talented Israel team have been one of the surprise packages of the tournament but were eliminated b ya single goal from Anderson Duarte.
Now Italy and South Korea will battle it out to face Uruguay in the final. On the basis of the last few weeks either side will have their work cut out against a Uruguayan team that simply do not concede. In six games at the World Cup, Marcelo Broli's team have kept five clean sheets.
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This is the place to be if you want to follow all the action from Argentina as Italy face South Korea in the semi-finals of the U20 World Cup.
Both teams have impressed at this tournament and will be desperate to make the final against Uruguay. We'll have team news from Estadio de La Plata in about 20 minutes...