South Korea beat big-name European opposition in controversial circumstances for the third successive game as Spain had two 'goals' ruled out in their quarter-final before losing to the co-hosts 5-3 on penalties.
The disallowing of what would have been an own goal from Kim Tae-young and an extra-time 'golden goal' header from Fernando Morientes enraged the Spanish players and they surrounded match officials at the end in scenes that threatened to turn ugly.
"Playing at home and with the benefit of the decisions at key moments have helped Korea," midfielder Gaizka Mendieta said.
"The whole week we were talking about the refereeing factor and it was vital in two key moments - it is difficult to control yourself when things like that happen."
South Korea had reached the quarter-finals after a 1-0 win over Italy in which the Italians also had a questionable off-side decision against them in extra time and Francesco Totti sent off.
The Italians fiercely criticised the referee in that game and claimed the South Koreans had been favoured throughout the match. Korea beat Portugal in their final group game after two Portuguese players were sent off.
Spanish players were as incensed as the Portuguese and Italians after their defeat on Saturday.
"It could have turned the game around and we are talking about the quarter-finals of a World Cup not a friendly match played just anywhere," said Morientes, "Two goals disallowed -- that has never been seen."
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas said he was not at all surprised by the decisions.
"We knew the referee would be like that. It is just what we expected," he said.
"I thought the referee would be fairer in a quarter-final match like this," said Spanish coach Jose Antonio Camacho.
"All that was missing was for the linesman not to have raised his hand and for the referee to award us the two goals.
"Games shouldn't be decided by the referee but football will survive," said the Spaniard.
But South Korea's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink said it was unfair to talk of a disallowed 'goal' when his team had stopped defending on seeing the linesman's flag raised.
"At the moment the referee or the linesman waves the flag and the referee blew the whistle, then our goalie was already not defending any more so you cannot talk about a goal.
"This situation was stopped. It was the same against the Italy team -- our defence stopped the moment the whistle blew so you cannot say its a goal. You can discuss whether it is out, yes or no," said Hiddink.