Seventh heaven for Portugal
Portugal produced a blistering second-half performance to send North Korea out of the World Cup finals after a crushing 7-0 victory.
Last Updated: 21/06/10 4:16pm
Portugal produced a blistering second-half performance to send North Korea out of the World Cup finals after a crushing 7-0 victory in Cape Town.
Group G minnows North Korea had battled manfully during an evenly-contested first half, but wilted after half-time as Cristiano Ronaldo turned in a Jekyll and Hyde performance.
Ricardo Carvalho struck the post early on for Portugal before the breakthrough arrived on 29 minutes through Raul Meireles' cool finish.
The second half saw Portugal turn on the style as a spell of three goals in seven minutes from Simao Sabrosa, Hugo Almeida and Tiago broke the Koreans' spirit.
Another triple blast in the closing 10 minutes merely confirmed the comprehensive nature of the win as Liedson, Ronaldo and Tiago piled the misery on North Korea.
The result puts Portugal in a strong position to progress from Group G alongside Brazil, while North Korea will look to restore some of their battered pride in their final game against the Ivory Coast.
Portugal went into the match on the back of a goalless opener with the Ivory Coast, while North Korea had pushed Brazil all the way despite being defeated in their first game.
Carlos Queiroz's side came close to a breakthrough in the seventh minute when Carvalho was allowed to reach Simao's corner, but saw his header hit the left-hand post and bounce away.
Defender Cha Jong-hyok's bending right-footed shot from distance was not too far wide and minutes later Jong Tae-se should have done better when he failed to control a chipped ball into the box.
Another clear chance went begging for the underdogs after 17 minutes as Hong Yong-jo cut inside and, when Eduardo parried his shot, Pak Nam-chol headed over.
An Yong-hak dragged a left-footed shot wide while Meireles was off target twice for Portugal and Simao mis-kicked a first-time effort.
In the 29th minute the impressive Meireles opened the scoring. Breaking into the box, he was found by Tiago's clever ball and then slipped his shot beyond the goalkeeper.
Meireles then snatched at a loose ball in the box when he should have doubled the lead and Ronaldo's poor showing continued with a poorly-struck left-footed attempt as the half drew to a close.
The second half saw Portugal, and Ronaldo in particular, step up the tempo as Queiroz's men were rewarded with three goals in the space of seven minutes.
Meireles and Almeida combined on the edge of the box on 53 minutes, and the former played in Simao to side-foot the ball through the legs of Korean keeper Ri Myong-guk.
The North Koreans were now struggling to cope with the pace of their opponents and a burst down the left from Fabio Coentrao produced a perfect cross which the unmarked Almeida headed home.
The left-hand side again proved a lucrative source of chances for Portugal on the hour mark as Ronaldo cut in before rolling the ball into the path of Tiago to place his shot beyond Myong-guk.
Ronaldo was suddenly relishing the greater freedom he had been afforded by a tiring opposition defence and the Real Madrid star set up Meireles for what should have been his second goal of the day, only for his finish to drift wide.
Pulling the strings
The former Manchester United winger was pulling the strings for Portugal and a slick one-two involving Coentrao saw the Benfica full-back clip a shot just wide on 68 minutes.
Ronaldo came close to grabbing the goal his second-half display merited three minutes later as a surging run was followed by a thumping shot which crashed against the crossbar.
Substitute Liedson then got in on the act inside the closing 10 minutes as he smashed the ball into the back of the net with almost his first touch after Ri Kwang-chon had failed to cut out a pass into the area.
With three minutes to go, Ronaldo finally got on the scoresheet as he nipped past the Korean keeper, rolled the ball inadvertently on his head and then tapped into an empty net.
And the rout was completed with a minute to go as Tiago glanced a header inside the far post to leave Portugal on the brink of reaching the last 16.