South Korea reach last 16
South Korea will play Uruguay in the last 16 after their 2-2 draw with Nigeria proved enough to secure the runners-up spot in Group B.
By James Dall
Last Updated: 23/06/10 9:12am
South Korea will play Uruguay in the last 16 of the World Cup after their 2-2 draw with Nigeria proved enough to secure the runners-up spot in Group B.
Kalu Uche gave Nigeria an early lead in Durban but South Korea turned the game on its head via goals from Lee Jung-Soo and Park Chu-Young.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni restored parity from the penalty spot, moments after producing one of the most glaring misses in World Cup history, but the point was not enough for the Nigerians, who failed to win any of their games in South Africa.
Progression for Huh Jung-Moo's men marked history for the country as for the first time they reached the second round on foreign soil.
Lars Lagerback awarded veteran striker Nwankwo Kanu a first World Cup start, while Yussuf Ayila, Rabiu Afolab and Chinedu Obasi were also drafted in. For South Korea, Huh Jung-Moo made one change to the side which lost 4-0 against Argentina, switching Oh Beom-Seok for Cha Doo-Ri.
The South Koreans almost got off to a dream start when an attack down the right saw Lee Chung-Yong threaded in on goal. But the Bolton midfielder's sliding effort zipped wide of the near post. Then, Ki Sung-Yong had a sighter from range but saw his strike blaze over.
On 12 minutes, seemingly out of nothing, Nigeria went in front. Chidi Odiah raced down the right wing and drove in a low cross. South Korea right-back Cha Du-Ri was half-asleep to allow Uche to storm in and fire in his second goal of the 2010 World Cup.
South Korea were noticeably reeling from their concession of the opening goal as Nigeria threatened to double their lead. In the 22nd minute, Uche fired a free-kick over the bar before Chinedu Obasi opted to shoot off target when he really should have crossed to his team-mates lurking at the far post.
Huh's side looked to respond via a clever ball from Park Ji-Sung, but Park Chu-Young's finish was tepid. Nigerian's reaction was to put together a fine move, with passing aplenty. However, it was concluded with a rather central shot from Obasi, ensuring Jung Sung-Ryong saved with ease.
Jung's goalkeeping counter-part Vincent Enyeama then found himself in the thick of the action when he came charging out of his area before being booked for a foul on Park Jo-Sung near the touchline. The resulting free-kick was curling inwards by Ki Sung-Yong and unconvincingly punched out by Enyeama.
South Korea's woodwork was then left rattling by an Uche strike, but, against the run of play, they found themselves level. Obasi fouled and was given a yellow card and Ki Sung-Yong's cross into the box from the free-kick was diverted home by Lee Jung-Soo for his second goal in South Africa, although luck was on his side as he meant to head the delivery but instead notched in via his leg.
Lagerback replaced Joseph Yobo with Uwa Echiejile at the break, four minutes into which the South Koreans completed their turnaround. Park Chu-Young trotted up to a free-kick near the corner of the box and curled low towards the far post. Enyeama tried to second guess the strike and his early adjustment cost him as he was beaten.
After Park Chu-Young lashed wide with another free-kick, Lagerback threw on the speedy Obafemi Martins for the impressive Kanu. And the change was almost proceeded by an equaliser when Yakubu Aiyegbeni looked to pull the trigger but was denied by a fine last-ditch hook away by Lee Young-Pyo.
A fine counter-attack from South Korea almost handed them a two-goal lead when Yeom Ki-Hun's cross was stabbed towards goal by Park Chu-Young but Enyeama gathered easily. Yeom Ki-Hun was then replaced by Kim Nam-Il, who would make an awful impact.
Yakubu went from villain to hero moments later. First, the Everton striker impossibly missed an open goal from just three yards, rolling the effort wide. But then he was given a chance to redeem himself when the substitute Kim Nam-Il clumsily brought down Obasi. Yakubu rolled home coolly, and was then taken off for Victor Obinna.
Danny Shittu had a heart-in-mouth moment on 72 minutes when he so nearly inadvertently clipped into his own net, but the ball zipped past the post. That chance was one of a spate for Nigeria's opponents as Park Ji-Sung hit the side-netting and then Lee Chung-Yong drew a decent stop from Enyeama.
With the scoreline level, news of a goal from Argentina against Greece filtered through. Seconds after this revelation, Martins missed a gilt-edged opportunity as he was sent one-on-one with the goalkeeper only to chip his effort wide of the far stick.
Nigeria threw bodies forward in the dying stages, but their finishing continued to desert them as South Korea hung on for the point which booked them a last-16 clash against Uruguay on 26th June.