South Korea made an explosive start to their campaign by chalking up the first win of this year's World Cup finals with a fluent 2-0 victory over Greece in their Group B opener today.
Goals from Lee Jung-soo and captain Park-Ji-sung early in each half gave South Korea, semi-finalists in 2002, only their second World Cup win on foreign soil and left Greece struggling to advance from a group that includes Nigeria and Argentina.
The Koreans defended solidly against the aerial threat of the taller Greek players, who bombarded their opponents with lofted passes that yielded few chances for a country that has lost every World Cup game they have played in.
The 2004 European champions, who have failed to score at a World Cup finals, struggled against a torrent of South Korean attacks, with European-based duo Cha Du-ri and Park Chu-young proving a handful for the Greek defence.
"We played to win and our players worked really hard," said South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo. "The team played well and the flow of the game was very good."
Greece started brightly and could have gone ahead in the third minute when Vassilis Torosidis steered Giorgos Karagounis's corner past the post.
But South Korea, unbeaten in qualifying, always looked dangerous though and punished Greece with slick counter-attacking and neat passing play that left their opponents outnumbered at the back.
They snatched the lead in the seventh minute when Lee Young-pyo's corner drifted past four defenders into the path of Lee Jung-soo, who volleyed the ball into the net to spark frenzied celebrations from thousands of travelling Korean fans.
Greece, who did not score in any of their group games in their only previous appearance in 1994, battled to get into the game but were reeling as the three-times Asian champions piled on the pressure and had two penalty appeals turned down.
Park Chu-young looked certain to double their lead near the half-hour mark when Park Ji-sung's incisive pass put him clean through on goal, only for his shot to clip goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas and spiral over the bar.
Park Ji-sung, uncharacteristically quiet in the first half, burst into life after the break and doubled South Korea's lead in the 52nd minute to deal a killer blow to Greece.
He chased a poorly weighted square ball from Avraam Papadopoulos, eluded two defenders and coolly slotted the ball into the corner with a left-footed drive to clinch the points.Reuse content