Archive for Tuesday, June 18, 2002

World Cup: South Korea stuns Italy

June 18, 2002


South Korea survived the pressure of the knockout round of the World Cup on Tuesday. Japan, its co-host, didn't.

Ahn Juhn-hwan, who earlier missed a penalty kick, scored 27 minutes into overtime as South Korea sent another soccer giant packing, edging Italy 2-1. Ahn was so exhausted after his header found the net he simply collapsed in the corner before his teammates rushed over to pile on in celebration.

The singing, chanting crowd at Daejeon was nearly as spent as the players from the dramatic 117 minutes of action. But the fans began waving flags as South Korea moved into the quarterfinals, and several of the flags were thrown onto the field for the players to run around with.

It was a far cry from the scene in Miyagi, Japan, where Turkey knocked out the Japanese team 1-0. There, bitter tears flowed.

But in South Korea, the tears were joyful, as the Koreans move on to meet Spain on Saturday at Gwangju.

"They're all best players, the players who came on and the players on the bench. We're all the best," said coach Guus Hiddink, a Dutchman hired to turn around a team that never won a game in five World Cups. "The people must celebrate. They're normal, hard-working people."

Italy, a three-time champion, joined defending titlist France, Argentina and Portugal on the sidelines. The only other time an Asian team made the quarterfinals, it was North Korea in 1966 - with a victory over Italy.

Italy was down to 10 men when Francesco Totti was ejected with his second yellow card 13 minutes into overtime. Referee Byron Moreno of Ecuador called Totti for diving, although he appeared to fall over the ball.

Earlier, Gianluigi Buffon made a diving save on Ahn's penalty kick in the 5th minute. Then Italy's top scorer, Christian Vieri, headed in a corner kick in the 18th for his fourth goal of the tournament.

But Seol Ki-hyeon tied it on a last-gasp attack in the 88th minute after a mistake in the Italian defense.

South Korea had two more excellent chances before extra time, and Vieri missed an open net with seconds remaining.

The victory meant all five major FIFA confederations made the final eight.

Turkey plays Senegal in Osaka, Japan on Saturday. The United States faces Germany in Ulsan, South Korea on Friday, when England and Brazil play in Shizuoka, Japan.

Tears and raindrops marked Japan's loss to the Turks.

Umit Davala's head, fashioned with a Mohawk hairdo, met Ergun Penbe's corner kick in the 12th minute. Davala was unchallenged by the Japanese defense and powered in the only goal.

Japan could not retaliate in a constant downpour, and Turkey had its first spot in the quarterfinals.

"We're a really great team," defender Hakan Unsal said, "and I hope to make it to the final."

The Japanese must make do with their best showing in soccer's showcase. Still, many players were crying as they left the field, and thousands in the stands could not hold back their tears.

"I hope that the world looks at Japan differently now," midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata said. "We now need to work harder to prepare ourselves and train ourselves to ensure that we take advantage of the next opportunity."

The next opportunity for the Americans is against the team that beat them 2-0 in the opener of the 1998 tournament. The Americans haven't been this far in a World Cup since the first edition in 1930, and are 2-4 against Germany.

Germany won the last meeting, 4-2, in March. So will the U.S. players be in awe of the three-time champions?

"We can't give them as much respect as we did then," U.S. captain Claudio Reyna said Tuesday, a day after the Americans defeated Mexico 2-0 in the second round. "The difference is that in a knockout game, you have to be cautious and also go for it."

Germany, which has been this far a record 14 times, isn't looking past the United States. In a tournament where outsiders have given favorites fits, every game seems to be a tossup.

"They will be a very unpleasant rival," German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn said. "They fight a lot, like us, and they are very patriotic guys who give everything for their country. We have to be very careful."

England is concerned it might be missing star striker Michael Owen for Friday's quarterfinal with Brazil in Shizuoka, Japan. Owen missed practice Tuesday with a groin injury.

"We hope that he will be fit for Friday, but he needs to be 100 percent. I think everybody needs to be 100 percent fit to play Brazil," assistant coach Tord Grip said.

Portuguese forward Joao Pinto, ejected in a first-round match against South Korea, was indefinitely suspended Tuesday for hitting a referee.

FIFA's disciplinary committee said there were indications Pinto punched referee Angel Sanchez of Argentina in the stomach when shown a red card for tackling a South Korean player from behind last Friday. The Koreans won 1-0, eliminating Portugal from the tournament.

"The act of hitting a referee is considered to be a serious violation of the disciplinary code," FIFA said in a statement.

A 25-year-old man died when he slipped off the platform while watching the U.S.-Mexico game on an overhead television set and was hit by a speeding train in Calcutta, India. Aveek Tarafdar was standing near the edge of the platform when he lost his balance and fell on the railroad tracks. He tried to climb back, but was hit by the train.

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