SKorea wins opener after crucial 1st 10 minutes

SKorea wins opener after crucial 1st 10 minutes

Published Jun. 12, 2010 5:11 p.m. ET

South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo realized after his team's 2-0 win over Greece on Saturday that two key moves in the first 10 minutes could have sent the match either way.

One set piece was unsuccessful and the other resulted in a goal.

``When we are playing against a team like Greece, if we had been on the receiving end, it would have been very difficult for us to recover,'' Huh said.

In the third minute, Greece, which picked an aggressive three-man attack at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, had a free kick. Captain Georgios Karagounis' corner found Vassilis Torosidis, who shot over the bar.


Four minutes later, Ki Sung-yong's free kick went over a host of players, allowing an unmarked Lee Jung-soo to tap in at the far post for South Korea's first goal.

``There was a set piece where we could have taken the lead and we could have scored,'' Greece coach Otto Rehhagel said.

``Then we had a set piece against us and South Korea scored. We were all there but we weren't careful enough. They ran the extra mile to get the ball.''

Angelos Charisteas, Georgios Samaras and Fanis Gekas were the ones charged by Rehhagel to put early pressure on South Korea in an effort to win a first-ever match at the World Cup. Greece lost all three of its games in its only previous tournament appearance, and its record of not scoring a goal continues.

Samaras rued his side's missed opportunities.

``We know they are a good team, but in the end, we lost from our mistakes,'' Samaras said. ``We tried to press them, but we didn't do our best in the end and didn't develop our chances.''

Rehhagel, whose team faces Nigeria on Thursday in Bloemfontein, agreed.

``It was difficult to tackle the opponent as if we'd been in the lead,'' Rehhagel said. ``Things turned out differently to how we expected.''

South Korea's win put the team in a good position to finish among the top two in Group B, with Argentina favored to top the group. The South Americans, which beat Nigeria 1-0 Saturday, are South Korea's next opponent - Thursday in Johannesburg.

``Argentina is one of the candidates for the final and it has a lot of very good players, so it is tough to play against,'' Huh said.

``But I told my players we have to be confident and no matter how good the opponent is we have to continue to grow as a team. There are some rough spots but just because our opponent is a strong team, I don't think they will become defeatist.''