18 June, 2006

Surrender: France 1 South Korea 1

On paper this is the most difficult group game for France, and after an unimpressive performance against Switzerland they need to get something out of it, while the Koreans know that a win will mean qualification is assured.

The French come rushing out of the blocks, and by the time Thierry Henry scores after 9 minutes they have already shown more class than they did in the whole of the first game. The Koreans recover their composure and following the goal they dominate possession, pushing France back into their own half.

France look only occasionally threatening. After 27 minutes Henry makes a powerful run, taking the ball into the box. He goes down under pressure from a defender but the referee denies him a penalty. TV replays prove it to be a good decision, but it is the best chance since the goal.

Korea's closest effort comes on 37 minutes when they win a free kick. Lee Chun Soo whips the ball into the box, and it somehow avoids a whole group of players and edges past the far post.

In the second half France are clearly on top but they squander too many chances. The Koreans, meanwhile, seem lost, unable to find a way through. Patrick Vieira puts the ball in the net but it is disallowed for a push. Sagnol makes a good run into the box and his shot is blocked well by a Korean defender.

The Koreans do well to keep France from getting a second but they spend too much time on the back foot and barely get forward at all. The French defend strongly in midfield and prevent their opponents from progressing. With about 15 minutes to go, however, Korea finally start to make headway. The French are forced to retreat and defend their goal heavily.

The pressure is suddenly relentless, and after a frantic spell the ball is bundled over the line, finally coming off Park Ji Sung. Gallas might have prevented it with a goal-line clearance, but he is too slow to react to an awkward ball.

The French try to respond. Henry is one-on-one against the keeper but his shot is poor, going straight into the keeper's hands. They receive more bad news when Zidane is booked and will miss the next game.

The pace increases as both teams press for the winner. South Korea have a shot blocked in the box and French shots go wide and high. The Koreans put a free kick wide in the last seconds of the match but it finishes 1-1.

The French are shaken and will be struggling to qualify now, but the group remains open.

1 comment:

Rish said...

Looks as though the great Zizou may have played his last match then...


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