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South Korea 2–0 Greece
12/06/2010  by Goal.com
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The Taegeuk Warriors recorded a comfortable success against limp opponents...

South Korea made a positive start to their World Cup campaign, defeating a poor Greece side 2-0 in their opening Group B encounter.

Lee Jung-Soo pounced on some slack marking to knock the Asians ahead early in the first half, before a strike from Park Ji-Sung, who was the benefactor of a dire mistake from Loukas Vyntra early in the second half, made the game safe.

The Greeks, most known for their stifling tactics, made a positive start to the encounter, wasting a fine chance to score their first ever goal at a World Cup finals event after just two minutes. Giorgos Karagounis whipped over a corner from the Greece right which the South Koreans failed to defend. The ball dropped invitingly to Vasilis Torosidis, who prodded off target from six yards having failed to sort his feet out.

South Korea may have made an inauspicious start to the game, but there were signs they were beginning to exert themselves onto proceedings, with a fierce drive from Cha Du-Ri blocked by a blue-shirted defender.

With seven minutes on the clock, the Asian powerhouse moved into the ascendancy. A free kick near the corner flag was arrowed into the box by Ki Sung-Yong and tapped home at the far post by Lee Jung-Soo, who had escaped Greece’s zonal marking system.

This was not expected to be a game of frequent chances, and so it proved for the remainder of the first half. South Korea were proving dangerous, particularly when they were able to counter rare Greece attacks, with the strong running of Park Ji-Sung and Kim Jung-Woo causing issues for a rather sluggish looking Greek midfield.

On several occasions the Taegeuk Warriors threatened to sneak in behind their opponents, but on 27 minutes they finally sprung the trap, partly thanks to some poor defending from Avraam Papadopoulos. Park Chu-Young was through, but the leg of Alexandros Tzorvas got enough on the ball to loop it over the top.

Just before the break, the Monaco forward was again given a sight of goal, but his shot from the edge of the ‘D’ rose comfortably over the top.
Otto Rehhagel responded at half-time by withdrawing captain Karagounis, but this had little effect on his turgid side. Centre-back Vyntra, who had some horror moments in the first half, even cost his side a goal six minutes after the restart, presenting the ball to Park Ji-Sung when asked to deal with a routine pass from Giourkas Seitaridis. The industrious midfielder held off the challenge of the recovering defender before skipping by a lunge from Papadopoulos before dispatching the ball into the net.

The German coach responded to this blow by making another couple of changes, though the Europeans remained inert offensively.

South Korea have built their reputation from being anything but inert, and a searching cross just after the hour mark from Cha Du-Ri picked out Park Chu-Young, who escaped his marker but directed his header inches over the top.

Theofanis Gekas hooked a rare chance for Greece over the top from close range, acting as the catalyst for a spell of pressure from Rehhagel’s side, who were previously offering no persistent problems to their well-organised and unflinching opponents. Dimitris Salpigidis headed tamely into the arms of Jung Sung-Ryong moments later, before Katsouranis then smacked a fine chance over the top. Salpigidis then had a near post effort blocked wide by his marker.

For a period South Korea were genuinely rattled, but when they had started to look comfortable with ten minutes remaining, Gekas gave them a fierce wake-up call, pivoting 12 yards out to drive powerfully at goal. Thankfully for Jung Sung-Ryong, the shot was down the middle of the goal, giving him the chance to tip the ball over.

This proved the last serious scare for Huh Jung-Moo’s side, who ended the match on the front foot. Park Chu-Young remained threatening, while Kim Jung-Woo drove wide when well positioned inside the box.

Ultimately the final score flattered Greece if anything, and South Korea can now focus on their forthcoming fixture against Nigeria, which, if they win, will leave them perfectly positioned to reach the last 16 for a second time.

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