South Korea see off disappointing Greece

2010-06-12 14:51

South Korea registered the first win at the 2010 Soccer World Cup,

a richly deserved 2-0 victory against Greece today to give them a live chance of

achieving their ambition of a last 16 berth.

South Korea, semifinalists when they co-hosted, with Japan, the

competition in 2002, were too quick and too smart for Otto Rehhagel’s Euro 2004

champions, who were sent packing by goals from Lee Jung Soo and captain and

Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung.

The United star reflected: “This was my third World Cup goal and it

makes me very honoured but ultimately it’s down to the team winning.

“We had a good result today, and as this is the first World Cup in

Africa I’m thrilled.”

His coach, Huh Jung-Moo, added: “The first game is always

difficult, my team played well, we prepared thoroughly. Our main strategy was

looking at Greece’s set pieces.

And if we had been a little calmer we could have

perhaps scored more goals.”

The Asian side grabbed this Group B fixture by the scruff of the

neck as early as the seventh minute when Celtic’s Ki Sung Yueng’s freekick from

beside the left corner flag skimmed over the heads of the Greek defence for Lee

to volley in at the far post.

Considering that it was Greece with their far superior statures

that were supposed to present the setpiece threat, the manner of Korea’s goal

will have come as a nasty surprise.

Understandably Rehhagel did not look the happiest man among the

crowd at the three-quarter full 42?000-capacity Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in

Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape.

The Koreans proceeded to run rings round the Greeks and were close

to a second goal in the 27th minute after Ji-Sung’s superb through ball found

Park Chu Young only for the Monaco striker’s shot to be deflected over the

crossbar by keeper Alexandros Tzorvas.

Rehhagel made one switch at the break, replacing captain Giorgis

Karagounis with defender Christos Patsatzoglou.

Seven minutes later Greece, who have never had the pleasure of

celebrating a World Cup goal, fell further behind after a masterful charge by

the sparky Ji-Sung.

The talismanic United midfielder beat off defenders Avraam

Papadopoulos and Loukas Vyntra to slot the ball deftly past Tzorvas, triggering

a flurry of flag waving among the Korean fans.

This Group B opener represented a personal milestone for Michael

Hester, the first New Zealander to referee a match at the World Cup, and he

marked the occasion by dishing out a yellow card to Greek defender Vasilis

Torosidis.

Ten minutes from time something unusual took place, Greece had a

shot at goal – but Korea’s veteran keeper Jung Sung Ryong lived up to his

nickname of “Spiderhands” to tip Theofanis Gekas’s close range attempt over the

bar.

Rehhagel, making his debut as a World Cup finals manager at the age

of 72, said Korea had deserved their win, before adding: “I’m always

disappointed to lose a match, whether it’s in the World Cup or a cup game.

“We’ll go back to Durban now and analyse what went wrong factually

and soberly and try and improve for our next game (against Nigeria).

“The Koreans played very well, they fought hard, they used their

chances, we didn’t.”



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