Park inspires enterprising Koreans to winning start

South Korea 2 Greece 0
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The Independent Football

Park Ji Sung helped to continue Greece's miserable World Cup record as South Korea opened the tournament with a comfortable victory. The Manchester United midfielder struck seven minutes into the second half in Port Elizabeth to add to an opener after only seven minutes by the central defender Lee Jung Soo and put his side firmly in control.

Greece produced a disappointing performance, never really generating any rhythm and lacking pace in attack. A fourth defeat without scoring in four World Cup opening matches looked increasingly inevitable.

South Korea's manager Huh Jung Moo was happy enough with his side's start. "We played to win and our players worked really hard," he said. "The team played well and the flow of the game was very good."

Uncertainty in the Greek defence showed itself early on and it was a poor headed attempt to clear a free-kick from the Celtic midfielder Ki Sung Yueng that led to the opening goal. The ball was deflected in a loop to the far post where Lee Jung Soo volleyed it gleefully into the back of the net.

Greece's woes might have increased further with Bolton's Lee Chung Yong astonished not to be awarded a 15th-minute penalty for a clumsy challenge from behind by the full-back Vasilis Torosidis.

Only a last-ditch tackle by Avraam Papadopoulos on the striker Park Chu Young as he shot allowed the goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas to make a vital block in the 28th minute.

Greece had started the game brightly, Torosidis firing wide when he met a second-minute corner by Georgios Karagounis with an instinctive half-volley, but it was largely downhill from there. The expected aerial onslaught never materialised and the central defenders Lee Jung Soo and Cho Yong Hyung were largely untroubled.

By contrast, Korea were enterprising in their movement and the strikers Park Chu Young and Yeom Ki Hun, with support from a fluid midfield quartet, kept the Greek defence at full stretch. They increased their lead within seven minutes of the restart when Park Ji Sung made the most of Loukas Vyntra's woeful control in the middle of the field to race in on goal before sliding a shot across Tzorvas and into the bottom corner.

Greece's coach, Otto Rehhagel, replaced Angelos Charisteas and Georgios Samaras with Dimitrios Salpingidis and Pantelis Kapetanos without much success and it was Korea who went close to another goal when Park Chu Young headed over from Cha Du Ri's cross in the 63rd-minute.

Theofanis Gekas, who had come on at half-time, acrobatically fired high over after controlling a long ball well on his chest with 68 minutes gone and Salpingidis headed weakly at the keeper two minutes later. Gekas did at least force a fine one-handed save from Jung Sung Ryong with a left-foot shot on the turn with nine minutes remaining.

Rehhagel admitted that his side had made errors in the second half. "I knew the Koreans would be very fast, very swift and they would run the extra mile to get the ball," he said. "It was a well-deserved win."

Booking: Greece, Torosidis.

Attendance: 31,000

Referee: Michael Hester (NZ)

Man of the match: Park Ji Sung