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18 June 2002, 22:13 Seoul - Tokyo


Korea's Ahn Jung Hwan scored a dramatic golden goal to knock three-time champions Italy out and advance into a quarter-final battle with Spain. They trailed the entire match after an early Christian Vieri header, but Seol Ki Hyeon scored late to go into extra time, and then Ahn became the toast of Korea.

In front of a boisterous ocean of fans in Daejon, Korea repeated the victory of their neighbours North Korea in 1966 over Italy. It was an amazing victory that no one would have expected after Korea missed an early penalty and Vieri opened the scoring, therefore allowing Italy to embrace their "catenaccio" style. An excited nation will now settle into an evening of rejoicing.

Korea got off to an incredible start when they were awarded a penalty after just five minutes after Christian Panucci pulled down Ki Hyeon Seol at a corner. But the spot kick taken by Jung Hwan Ahn was superbly turned round the post by Gianluigi Buffon (5’).

The scare sparked Italy into life. They began to dominate possession with both Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero looking dangerous. The Azzurri got their reward when Christian Vieri leaped highest to head in a Totti corner at the near post. It was his record-equalling ninth goal for Italy in the tournament and fourth of this championship (0:1, 18’).

The response to the goal did not come from Korea but rather by Italy, who chose to sit back catenaccio-style on their lead waiting for Korea to attack.

The tactic paid off for a while with the only chance falling to Ahn. He spun on a pass from Ji Sung Park on the right edge of the box but hit his cross shot inches over the angle of bar and post (36’).

Italy almost went two to the good minutes later when the Roma connection Totti and Damiano Tomassi worked a wonderful move. The midfielder ran onto a cute pass through by the No10 but, with only the goalkeeper to beat, was well blocked by the body of Woon Jae Lee (38’).

Korea’s Ahn, who plays his football in Italy with Perugia, twice came close to equalising for the co-hosts before half time. First, his 25-yard free kick was deflected just wide (45’). Then, as Korea responded to the huge support, he struck another sweet shot from distance which was smothered by Buffon (46’).

It was a scrappy opening to the second half with Italy sitting back and inviting Korea to attack.

Despite Italy’s defensive wall, Korea gained a series of free kicks on the edge of the box but they were unable to take advantage.

As the crowd created another crescendo of noise, along ball from defence had Vieri clean through. The Internazionale striker, though wasted the gilt-edged chance firing wide with his right foot (74’).

And it was Vieri again who went desperately close again. He battled to win the ball back and headed for goal only to see his left–foot strike clip a defenders boot and land on top of the net (77’).

Italy were creating much the better chances now and they nearly extended their lead with a tremendous run by Totti. Reminiscent of Roberto Baggio’s goal against Czechoslovakia in Italy 90, the player beat a number of defenders on a run from inside his own half but just when he had a clear shot on goal he wanted to beat the last defender and the chance went begging (79’).

Korea hadn’t created a single opportunity in the whole second half but just when it appeared coach Giovanni Trapattoni’s tactics had paid off Korea miraculously equalised with seconds of time remaining. Panucci failed to clear a chip in the box and Seol drilled the ball low into the corner to send the crowd wild (1:1, 88’).

In a frantic finish, Italy ran to the other end of the park and Tomassi’s perfect centre was ballooned over the bar by Vieri from inside the six-yard box (89’). Even then there was time for Korea to win the match as substitute Cha Du Ri overhead kicked straight at Buffon (90’) and Park shot into the side netting (91’).

Heartened by their late goal, Korea started the first period of extra time the stronger winning a series of corners with Italy unable to escape from their own half.

Hwang Sun Hong cleverly shot under the jumping Azzurri wall and Buffon pulled out a miraculous save diving to his left to turn it round the post and save the Golden Goal (102’).

Italy’s first forage into Korea’s half brought what could be one of the most talked about decisions of the competition. Totti fell under a challenge in the area and, as Red Devil hearts missed a beat, the referee ran to the Roma player instead of the penalty spot, producing a yellow card followed by a red (103’).

Hwang had a glorious chance to give victory to Korea as all alone he headed a left-wing cross at Buffon (111’).

After being the hero, Park was so close to becoming the villain after he incredibly tried a back heel in his own area. The ball fell invitingly for Gennaro Gattuso but his shot was superbly saved by Lee from point blank range (113’).

And then the Golden Goal, the moment that will go down in history. Just as against the USA, a deep cross was flicked in by Ahn - the man who had missed the penalty 112 minutes before (2:1 aet, 117’). What a comeback!!!


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