Red Devils Inflict Greek Tragedy

by Michael Somerville

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

South Korea 2
Greece 0

A comfortable victory for South Korea boosted their chances of qualifying past the group stage- a first on foreign soil.

Lee Jung-soo scored an easy tap in for South Korea to earn his team the first win at the World Cup after 6 minutes. A good cross by Ki Sung-yong was badly read by six Greek defenders; just skimming the head of Kostas Katsouranis and was gratefully converted by the South Korean.

Greece struggled to make any real opportunities for themselves in the first half, with any sort of creativity being completely neutralised by the energetic South Korean midfield.

Manchester United fans knew just how hard Park-Ji Sung can work, and he was replicating his good club form for his country today.

In a game plan that seemed to say “defend and nick a goal’ the heroics of Greek’s Euro 2004 campaign seemed a long way away on this showing.

Manager Otto Rehhagel replaced Greek captain Karagounis at half time in a statement of defiance after a bad all-round performance from the Euro champions six years ago. The Greek coach is the only man to have played and managed more than 1000 Bundesliga games, and in 2004 was the first foreigner to be named Greek of the Year. It’s very unlikely he will receive such a Greek related honour ever again.

South Korea continued to attack in the second half with verve and style, and were rewarded in the 51st minute after a spot of luck gifted Park Ji- Sung with his sides second goal.

A terrible touch by Papadopoulos gifted the Manchester United star his team some breathing space. It was a great scampering run that was beautifully stroked into the bottom right hand corner, virtually ending any hopes of a comeback.

Celtic man Georgios Samaras was substituted in the 58 minute after a poor game and fully deserved to be withdrawn.

The entire Greek team played badly, but Rehhagel clearly needed to make an attacking change if Greece were to get anything from the game.

The 64th minute saw another chance go begging for South Korea as Park Chu –young headed over in acres of space from point blank range.

A half chance for substitute Salpigidis came and went but he didn’t have the composure to hit the target with twenty minutes go play.

You would have thought that there was a player that wanted to be Greeks first ever scorer at a World Cup finals match, but there were simply no takers.

The Korean defense started to look a little bit shaky in the final 20 minutes after Greece made half decent chances- but there was little movement up front to unsettle the Koreans.

A good parry by Korean keeper Jung Sung-ryon denied Theofanis Gekas in the 80th minute to refute any hint of a late comeback.

Last ditch Greek defending just about denied South Korea a third goal in the 85th minute as Lee Chung-young saw a lackluster shot turned round the post.

A comfortable win for South Korea has put them in good contention to qualify for the knockout stages.

Perhaps they could even repeat their heroics of 2002?

Follow my reports where I’ll be blogging on every single World Cup match in South Africa with refreshing reactions and insight.

South Korea
18 Jung
04 Cho
12 Lee
14 Lee
22 Cha
07 Park Captain
08 Kim
10 Park (Seung-Youl Lee, 87)
16 Ki (Kim, 74)
17 Lee (Kim, 90+1)
19 Yeom
12 Tzorvas
02 Seitaridis
08 Papadopoulos
11 Vyntra
15 Torosidis Yellow card
06 Tziolis
10 Karagounis Captain (Patsatzoglou, 46)
21 Katsouranis
07 Samaras (Salpigidis, 59)
09 Charisteas (Kapetanos, 61)
17 Gekas

01 Lee, 21 Kim, 02 Oh, 03 Hyung-ll Kim, 15 Kim, 23 Kang, 05 Kim, 06 Bo-Kyung Kim, 13 Kim, 09 Jung-Hwan Ahn, 11 Seung-Youl Lee, 20 Lee
01 Chalkias, 13 Michail Sifakis, 04 Spyropoulos, 05 Moras, 16 Kyrgiakos, 19 Papaststhopoulos, 22 Malezas, 03 Patsatzoglou, 18 Ninis, 23 Prittas, 14 Salpigidis, 20 Kapetanos

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