World Cup post-game: South Korea 2, Greece 0
Lee Jung-soo and Park Ji-sung scored to lift South Korea to a 2-0 victory over Greece Saturday in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in Group B action from the World Cup.
The main story line
When will the Greeks ever learn? It was six long years ago that Greece used a dour and defensive style to win the European Championship. Ever since, Otto Rehagel's team has tried to live off that amazing victory by using the same tactics, but they failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and crashed out of Euro 2008 in the first round.
It was more of the same from the Greeks on Saturday — even when they trailed, they showed little spark or creativity, and a lack of urgency. As a result, Greece remains winless at the World Cup (it's only previous tournament appearance came in 1994) and is still looking for its first-ever goal in the competition.
After two ties on the tournament's opening day Friday, South Korea posted the first victory of the competition.
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The winning goal
Greece failed to deal with a free kick that was whipped into the heart of the box from the left corner flag. With the Greek defence in chaos, Lee Jung-soo slipped between two defenders and scored on an easy tap-in to give South Korea the lead after seven minutes.
Turning point of the game
Greece was lucky to be down by only a goal by one half, but they were still in the game — until the 52nd minute when Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung scored on a brilliant solo effort to pad South Korea's advantage and kill off the game.
What this result means
This was a must-win game for both sides because their toughest matches, against Argentina and Nigeria, lie ahead in Group B. South Korea did very well to earn three points on Saturday, as a win in their final two games will likely propel them through to the second round.
As for Greece, they are in big trouble. With zero points, they can't afford any more losses (and that will be tough, as their final match is against Argentina) and they must take at least four points from their last two matches. Considering the Greeks still haven't scored a World Cup goal, don't bet on that happening.
Man of the match
Not only did Park Ji-sung score a fantastic goal, but he also ran himself ragged in midfield. His country benefited from his hard work, as South Korea was able to dictate the pace of the game and keep the Greeks chasing the ball.
Goal of the match
If South Korea's first goal was a product of good fortune (courtesy of some slack Greek defending), its second one was down to pure skill. Park Ji-sung forced a turnover inside Greece's half and then went on a scampering run, fighting off a few defenders before coolly slotting the ball by Greek goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas with a sublime finish.
Save of the match
With South Korea leading 1-0, Park Chu-young broke in on goal in the 28th minute and seemed destined to double the Koreans' lead. But Tzorvas stayed up on his feet before throwing out his left leg at the last second to block Park Chu-young's shot.
The South Korean perspective
"If we had been a little bit calmer, we could have had an even better result. In terms of scoring goals, it could have been a little bit better for us." — coach Huh Jung-moo
The Greek perspective
"We really have to get our act together. We've got to improve a couple of things and be brave and courageous enough." — coach Otto Rehhagel
South Korea takes on Argentina in Johannesburg on June 17 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:15 am ET), while Greece meets Nigeria on the same day in Bloemfontein (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:45 am ET).