The College View’s News Editor, Niall Farrell, witnessed Argentina produce one of the best performances seen so far in this World Cup. Diego Maradona’s side defeated South Korea 4-1 at the Soccer City stadium, Johannesburg.
From the outset, Argentina were firmly on the attack. The first real chance came after eight minutes, but Gonzalo Higuain’s fluffed shot drifted harmlessly over.
Within twenty minutes, Argentina had opened the scoring. A crossed ball was diverted into the South Korean net by Park Chu-Yung ahead of the on-rushing Martin Demichelis.
South Korea aimed to peg Argentina back immediately, as Ki Sung-Yeung shot narrowly over the Argentinean goal on the counter-attack.
Argentina’s accurate passing ensured that the Koreans didn’t have the ball for long though. Ángel Di María and Lionel Messi made probing runs down the flanks.
A free-kick from Carlos Tévez on twenty-eight minutes almost yielded a second goal for Argentina. Tévez struck a fine free-kick just inches over the crossbar.
The South Koreans had two more chances before the half-hour mark from Beom Seok-Oh and Chung Yong-Lee but neither came to any avail.
The attacking tactic employed by Argentina bore further fruits as Gonzalo Higuaín scored the second goal on thirty-three minutes.A free-kick on the left side of the South Korean penalty area was drifted in by Maxi Rodriguez, and Higuain at the far post was left to simply head the ball past Jung Sung-Ryong in goal for South Korea.
Five minutes before half time, Ángel Di María had a chance for a third Argentinean goal. After goalkeeper Jung could only parry a cross, Di María was left with the ball at his feet just ten yards from goal. The Benfica winger aimed the shot at the top-right corner of the Korean goal, but Jung pulled off an outstanding save to deny the Benfica winger his goal.
Just before the break, Lionel Messi almost scored what would have been one of the goals of the tournament. A superb run and pass from Carlos Tévez let Messi in to turn inside a defender and attempt an audacious chip on Jung from outside the box that fell just wide and over.
It looked like Argentina would be in a completely dominant position going into the second half, but a shock goal from South Korea on the stroke of half time put them back in contention.
Following a back-pass to Martin Demichelis that looked easy enough to deal with, Lee Chung-Young managed to steal the ball from the Bayern Munich defender after Demichelis took a bad first touch.
All that remained was an easy finish for Lee as he slotted the ball past Sergio Romero to make it 2-1.
The second half continued at the same high tempo, with Argentina aiming to play a more expansive game than they had before.
Lionel Messi had a half-chance directly after half time, as he dribbled his way into the box only to see his shot deflect away.
South Korean ‘keeper Jung had to pull off another outstanding save after a flowing trio of passes let Gonzalo Higuaín crack a close-range shot at the goal after fifty-two minutes.
A minute later Carlos Tévez cut inside from the left and blasted a low dipping shot at goal for Jung to save again.
Ki-Hung Yeom had a fantastic chance on fifty-seven minutes as South Korea began to break forward with more gusto. Yeom got on the end of the last in a series of quick Korean passes but could only shoot into the side-netting from an awkward angle. Both teams really started to play a more daring game after the hour mark. South Korea were on the lookout for a killer pass to find the equaliser but just weren’t lucky enough for the passes to connect.
The seventy-sixth minute saw a flurry of action, as a South Korean attack let Argentina counter and grab their third goal. Substitute Sergio Agüero released Lionel Messi, who streamed down the left flank and ghosted past two defenders before shooting.
Messi’s shot deflected right into the path of Higuaín, who only had to tap the ball into the net for his second goal.
Four minutes later, a similar move found Messi again on the left side of the Korean goal and Higuaín waiting at the far post. Messi chipped beautifully over the heads of the Korean defence for Higuaín to head in for his hat-trick.
Argentina closed out the game with yet more attacks, their attacking brilliance was a joy to watch. The Republic of Korea may look back and rue Ki-Hung Yeom’s missed opportunity early in the second half, the potential equaliser may well have changed the game.
The Albiceleste will secure qualification to the Round of 16 if Greece are defeated by Nigeria this afternoon. For South Korea, their World Cup future will now depend on finding a result against the Super Eagles on June 22.
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