South Korea ends World Cup with mixed feelings

KAZAN, Russia (AP) The tears flowed on both sides of the field after South Korea beat Germany at the World Cup.

Even in victory, the South Koreas struggled to compose themselves following a 2-0 win that knocked the defending champion Germans out of the tournament. That’s because South Korea entered the match with a slim chance to advance but couldn’t get it done.

”Since we won, everything went as planned,” South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong said. ”We looked at their strategies for the past four days. We looked at Germany’s formation. I told (my players) we would have opportunities, that they would need the victory more than us.”

South Korea had lost its opening two matches, but could have advanced with a victory at the Kazan Arena if Mexico had beaten Sweden in the other Group F match.

But nobody told the South Korean players that Mexico was getting routed 3-0, and they thought they were in contention right to the end.

”It was only after the game that we knew the score,” South Korea goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo said. ”We were really disappointed, that’s why a lot of us cried.”

South Korea, however, finished its campaign in Russian on a high, scoring two goals in injury time.

The South Koreans played aggressively in the first half and waited patiently for opportunities toward the end when the four-time champions pressed hard to score and get a victory that would have sent them through ahead of Mexico on goal difference.

While the Germans were clumsy in front of goal, Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min scored late while their teammates defended superbly with last-minute tackles and hard collective work.

Jo was also decisive, pulling off a superb one-handed save to deny Leon Goretzka’s header aimed at the far corner. He also stopped substitute Mario Gomez’s second-half header.

”We’re not going to the last 16, but we did manage to beat the champions, and the World No. 1 team,” Shin said. ”I hope we can manage to improve and do better in the future.”

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