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   June 29, 2002 | 1930 IST


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Sukur redeems himself

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Steve Bryant

In the end it wasn't form that Hakan Sukur was lacking; it was a partner.

The Turkish striker redeemed himself at the end of an otherwise dismal World Cup campaign by scoring the fastest goal in the tournament's 72-year history against South Korea in the third place play-off on Saturday.

Playing alongside a strike partner for the first time in the World Cup, Hakan Sukur eased into space as Ilhan Mansiz harrassed Korean defender Hong Myung-bo into losing the ball straight after the kick-off.

There was no repeat of the faltering display against Senegal when he missed one of the easiest chances of the tournament as Hakan Sukur calmly knocked the ball home after 11 seconds.

Ilhan Mansiz (L) is congratulated by teammate Hakan Sukur after scoring Turkey's second goal against South Korea.It was the famous striker's first goal after six matches without scoring and brought the total haul for his country to 36 goals in 80 appearances, both records.

Hakan Sukur's dry spell, partly caused by a lingering abdominal injury, had brought calls for coach Senol Gunes to play Ilhan Mansiz, scorer of Turkey's golden goal against Senegal, in his place.

Instead, Gunes opted to play the pair together and reaped the reward with three first-half goals, each the result of link-ups between Hakan Sukur, 30, and Ilhan, four years his junior.

For most of the World Cup, an increasingly disconsolate Hakan Sukur has looked isolated from his industrious midfield and wasted the chances that came his way.

But he looked a far livelier player throughout Saturday's match, making runs down both wings and often providing chances for his partner, the joint top goalscorer in Turkey's league last season for Besiktas.

Hakan Sukur won his first cap in 1992 and since then there have been few matches in which the Turks did not come out with the tall, lean and unshaven striker leading their front line.

Often captaining the side, Hakan Sukur has led the way for an exodus of Turkish players to European clubs and served as a talismanic presence at Turkish triumphs at national level and for club side Galatasaray.

He now plays in Italy for Parma where he moved after a frustrating period on the bench at Inter Milan.

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