Cesare Casadei’s seventh goal of the tournament and a sensational Simone Pafundi free kick allowed Italy to beat South Korea 2-1 and reach the Under-20 World Cup Final.
The winners go on to face Uruguay in the Final, who eliminated Israel 1-0, on Sunday in La Plata.
Italy failed to make the most of the goalkeeper flapping at a Tommaso Baldanzi corner, then the Empoli midfielder’s toe-poke was saved, but they broke through with Inter youth product Casadei yet again.
The midfielder purchased by Chelsea side-footed it perfectly into the far top corner from the edge of the box after a high press to win back the ball. It was Casadei’s seventh goal in six games at this World Cup.
Giuseppe Ambrosini tested the goalkeeper from distance, but South Korea were awarded a penalty using VAR when Mattia Zanotti clumsily trod on the foot of Bae Jun-Ho and Lee Seung-Won converted.
Samuel Giovane drilled just wide after a give and go with Francesco Pio Esposito, while Kim Yong-Hak ballooned over the bar from 13 yards.
Lee Young-Jun, Riccardo Turicchia, Giovane and Baldanzi tested the goalkeepers after the restart.
There was controversy when a corner found Matteo Prati’s header at the back post and Kim Joong-Jong somehow managed to stop the ball completely crossing the line.
Sebastiano Desplanches had to make a great save on Lee Seung-Won after a cross-field pass sent the defence into a panic.
Baldanzi’s in-swinging free kick was parried with difficulty and Lee Young-Hun blasted off target from a promising position.
Udinese’s 17-year-old talent Pafundi came off the bench, earned a free kick on the edge of the box and curled it brilliantly over the wall into the near top corner with his left boot.
Italy 2-1 South Korea
Casadei 14 (I), Lee Seung-Won pen 23 (K), Pafundi 86 (I)
Italy U20: Desplanches; Zanotti (Faticanti 67), Ghilardi, Guarino, Turicchia; Giovane (Fontanarosa 82), Prati, Casadei; Baldanzi (Pafundi 82); Esposito (Montevago 82), Ambrosino (Fiumano’ 89)
South Korea U20: Kim Joon-Jong; Cho Young-Kwang, Choi Seok-Hyun, Kim Ji-Soo, Choi Ye-Hoon; Park Hyun-Bin (Bae Seo-Joon 89), Kang Sang-Yoon; Kim Yong-Hak (Lee Ji-Han 62), Lee Seung-Won, Bae Joon-Ho; Lee Young-Jin