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September 14, 2000
Spain beats South Korea 3-0The Rediff Team
In Adelaide, it was Spain versus South Korea. And it was Spain all the way, blunting the Korean speed and launching a series of attacks that had the Koreans scrambling desperately to save.
As early as the 10-minute mark, Spanish skipper Toni Velamazan got the ball in front of the box, trapped with his chest, and fired it in to the top left hand corner -- a precision strike that left the Korean goalkeeper stunned.
The Koreans ran their legs off in a bid for the equaliser, but poor finishing stymied their attempts. Spain concentrated on the slow build up and sudden acceleration, with Jose Mari providing a perfect example as he moved gently upfield, facing four defenders. A sudden burst, a body feint to shrug off one defender, a swerve to slip past another, a little dance that left Dong Hyuk and Kang Chul leaden footed, and a low, hard finish to bulge the net had Spain ahead 2-0.
Towards halftime, a fumble by defender Park Ji-Sung saw the speedy Tamudo pounce on the ball and take a shot. Off the post, the ball richocheted to Xavi. Two Korean defenders were just far enough to make their presence futile, the goalkeeper was out of position by the Tamudo try, and Xavi merely had to slot it into the net to have Spain 3-0 up inside 36 minutes of play.
The second half saw the Koreans getting more possession -- and what is more, retaining the ball for longer periods -- than they managed in the first half.
Ko Jung-Su was the standout for the Koreans, showing explosive speed and ripping the Spanish defence apart every time he got the ball. His main problem, though, lay in the fact that his colleagues cannot match his footspeed -- they have to start a day earlier to catch up with him.
Early in the half, a lovely move by Jong-Su saw him race past a couple of defenders, feet pumping before taking a shot on the run that went, to his evident horror, way too high. That was one clear chance for Korea, wasted by Jong-Su in his hurry.
At the other end of the field, Spain fired on goal thrice in as many seconds, with Ferron starting off the fusillade, then Tamudo pouncing on the rebound, and finally Xavi trying his luck and all three Spanish players failing to find the mark. That particular volley must have given Kim Yong-Dae, under the Korean bar, a feel for what it is to be in a battle zone.
Korea slipped another chance, when a Lee Young-Pyo corner saw Sim Jae-Won leap high and head, but head too hard and send the ball over the crossbar, in the 57th minute.
Spain, a minute later, could have increased the tally when Xavi, with the ball, raced down the field before laying a lovely pass to Gabri. A reckless shot from the latter sent the ball flying high over the goal, and into the crowd.
Around this time, Spain figured it had the game under control, and began resting its stars. First captain Velazaman, then Jose Mari, went off to be replaced by Ferron and Luque.
Confusing refereeing ruined a good chance for Korea, when Kim Do-Hoon found a gap in the Spanish defence and slotted the ball home, only for the umpire to call it offside. On replay, that seemed a harsh call.
Lee Dong-Gook caused a flutter when he curved a free kick explosively around the Spanish wall, but found Spanish keeper Aranzubia in the way, the keeper managing to get a hand to it and deflect it over the crossbar.
The Koreans went berserk towards the end, all ten men launching themselves forward in a desperate bid for goals. The tries came to grief, though, before a combination of rock solid defending, and the Koreans' own over-exuberance as they either overkicked or underkicked the ball in their haste.
At the final whistle, Spain was clear winners on the scoreline, but Korea deserved the ovation they got for a lion-hearted display against the odds. South Korea have footspeed to a remarkable degree, but they need a lot more ball skill before they can challenge the more reputed sides.
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