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KOREA REPUBLIC 1 : 1 UNITED STATES
Ahn Jung Hwans second-half header cancelled out a slick Clint Mathis strike as the Group D upstarts split the points in the red cauldron of Daegu, Korea. The home side very easily could have won the match as they not only had a Eul Yong Lee penalty saved by Brad Friedel, but they created far and away the greater number of chances.
A top-notch run and pass by John OBrien set up the Mathis goal, but after taking the lead, the Americans were put under consistent pressure by the co-hosts. But, hesitant finishing and resilient defending by the Americans set the scene for the equaliser. Both teams, which won their first matches, are still well-placed to advance into the knockout round. The two teams will now anxiously follow the Portugal v. Poland match later today.
Korea had the first chance when Hwang Sun-Hong played a ball across the penalty area to Seol Ki-Hyeon, but he failed to take advantage of the glorious opportunity as his volley from eight metres went well over the crossbar (6). The co-hosts again came close soon after when Kim Nam-Il fired a 40-metre shot that forced U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel to make a difficult save (9).
The Americans first chance fell to Landon Donovan, but his shot from 15 metres off a bouncing cross from the left went wide of the right post (21).
On their second chance, the U.S. made no mistake. John OBrien lofted a pass from midfield into Clint Mathis at the edge of the area, and the striker put his left-foot shot into the lower-left corner of the net (0:1, 24). The goal marked the second game in a row in which the U.S. took an early lead with a goal from a player in his first final-phase match.
Korea had their chance to draw level when Jeff Agoos who committed an own-goal in the win over Portugal pulled down Hwang Sun-Hong in the penalty area. However, Friedel made a spectacular save as he dived to his right to deny Lee Eul-Yongs spot-kick, and though the rebound spilled out dangerously in front of goal, Kim Nam-Il sent his follow up wide of the left post.
Korea again almost had the equaliser shortly after the interval as Seol Ki-Hyeon had a gem of a chance when he got loose behind the defence, but Friedel made a wonderful save with his right hand (47).
Korea maintained consistent pressure for long stretches of time. Several times it seemed that they were on the verge of a goal, only for an American defender to save the day with a desperation tackle. By the hour mark, the U.S. were playing with every man behind the ball, content to settle for counter-attacks.
Just after coming on as a substitute, Choi Yong-Soo had a great look at goal when he received a ball in space in the left side of the penalty area, but he drove his shot right at the steady Friedel (71). Then Kim Nam-Il tried his luck with a curling 25-metre shot that went high and wide (75).
With Korea applying so much pressure, the equaliser was bound to come. Lee Eul-Yong served a free kick from midfield into the penalty area, and Ahn Jung-Hwan rose up to flick his header into the right-side netting (1:1, 78).
Korea had a look at the would-be winner with the net wide open. Lee Eul-Yong
dribbled along the end-line, waited for Friedel to come out of his goal and
pulled the ball back to Choi Yong-Soo, who inexplicably chipped the ball
over the goal. It would be the last good chance for either team, as each
side was forced to settle for a single point.