Sunday, June 22, 2014

Algeria blast 4-2 South Korea in 2014 Fifa World Cup thriller

From the onset, Algeria carved the South Korean defence open and created two clear chances that went begging and a corner kick they wasted. They could have scored three goals by the 10th minute. They forged forward like a hurricane and retracted to defensive positions like a tortoise into its shell when they lost possession, all men behind the ball. They occasionally proved a little careless in midfield losing possession easily.

For their part, the Koreans were slow in tracking the opponents’ runs, and their marking was questionable on several instances. They capitalised on the loose balls straying in midfield from the Africans as they entered the penalty box looking for the opening goal.

It was Algeria who found the elusive ball. They won a midfield duel, quickly sent a long ball from behind the centre circle over the central defence by Medjani, between two Koreans. Slimani chased for the ball towards goal, sandwiched by his markers, touched the ball with his tummy as he entered the penalty box, and dinked the ball over the advancing goalkeeper’s left shoulder.

The Asians did not press the passer of the ball. They were caught square and far apart. They did not tackle their man and the goalkeeper could have delayed his advance as Slimani still had the attention of the defenders. The goal spurred the Algerians on as they won a corner kick.

Djabou supplied a perfect corner to the middle of the goal. Halliche out jumped the defence to score the second. The marking was atrocious as they allowed a free header. The goalkeeper came off his line and missed the ball after misjudging the flight of the ball.

The third goal came after very quick inter-passing. There was a degree of patience on possession as Algeria grew in confidence and put their foot on the ball. In a two versus two situation, the Koreans hesitated to mark tightly and Slimani squared the ball to Djabou to score past a defenceless Sung-Ryong Jung.

The South Koreans came into the second half in serious mood and looked set to turn the game on its head. Each man put in a double shift and they fought for the each other until the equaliser came. In similar circumstances to the goal that they conceded, a long ball from the left of midfield beyond the centre line by Ki Sung Yeung hit H. Son on his back. He turned around to pick it up, turn again to face the goal and fire a shot between Rais’ legs. The marking by the Africans was suspicious as they let the Asians play the long ball. They failed to clear the ball in the penalty area.

There were two consecutive goal-scoring opportunities after that goal, but the Koreans failed to convert them. Their best spell by far of the match turned into heartache as the first threat to their goal resulted in Algeria getting the fourth. A pass across the midfield from right to left found Ibrahimi who played a wall pass with Feghouli and side-footed a shot into goal. There was too much space for the Algerian attack and no one tracked the run of the scorer.

South Korea showed a lot of determination and refused to throw in the towel. They resorted to the long ball again. It came from the left side of the midfield to the right of the central position. As the panicking Algerian defence tried to deal with the situation, the ball was squared by Lee Kuen-Ho to the middle of the penalty area, almost into the 12-yard box. Koo Ja-Choel scored from close range, placing the ball to the far post.

The match tempo remained high and both teams spared no energy in attacking each other. The determination of the Koreans kept them going to the bemusement of their opponents who thought they had supped all the joules out of the pint-sized Asians. Despite fighting for a losing cause, they put a marvellous and brave show, fought tooth and nail in midfield duels and chased each and every ball, covered for each other and above all, believed that they could get something out of the match until the final whistle.

What a match! 4-2 it ended.