Historic win for S Korea

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/A/Ap_koreapoland.jpg' class='caption'> South Korea scored its first ever win at a World Cup finals with a 2-0 upset over Poland.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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South Korea scored its first ever win at a World Cup finals with a 2-0 upset today over Poland. The victory sparked an outpouring of relief and euphoria to cap Asian soccer's biggest day at soccer's showpiece event. Veteran striker Hwang Sun-hong gave the Koreans a 1-0 lead with a 26th-minute strike and midfielder Yoo Sang-chul rocketed a right-foot drive from the edge of the area in the 53rd minute for the match winner. The Koreans had gone winless at five previous World Cup finals appearances, but are under enormous pressure to reach the second round here after local organizers spent eight years and billions of dollars to prepare to co-host the tournament with Japan. It's the first time the World Cup has been held in Asia. Earlier, Japan squandered a lead to tie 2-2 with Belgium and China, making its World Cup debut, lost to Costa Rica. The Koreans went into their opening Group D match with a 4-1 win over Scotland and a 1-1 draw with England and a narrow 3-2 loss to defending world champion France in tune-ups, but few outside South Korea expected such a dominating performance against Poland. Poland was the first European team to qualify - apart from France which got an automatic spot as defending champion - after topping its group regional qualifying. But they have been patchy since, with a home loss to Japan and an uninspiring 1-0 win over Estonia in recent warm-ups. Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, who plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League and is rated among the best at this tournament, had two slip ups against the Korean attack. Hwang, 33, opened his fourth World Cup campaign with a bang, connecting with a neat cross from Lee Eul-yong and driving a left-footed volley beyond Dudek's outstretched hands. Dudek got both hands to Yoo's drive but didn't get enough purchase to stop the powerful shot. He did make some key saves, tipping Park Ji-Song's curling right-foot volley over the crossbar in the 49th minute and blocking Ahn Jung Hwan's shot in the last minute of regular time. Ahn, who replaced Hwang in the 51st minute, miscued a shot to the left of goals in the 79th minute that would have had Dudek in trouble and didn't get enough power onto a free kick in the 85th minute to cause much trouble. Yoo, who'd also found the back of the net in the 38th minute but didn't get the goal because he was ruled offside, was replaced by Lee Chun-soo in the 62nd minute. Almost 50,000 fans, mostly decked in red shirts to support the home team, nicknamed the "Red Devils", chanted: "Oh, Oh, Korea! Oh, Pilsung Korea'' for the entire second half. The chants translate to: "Korea's sure to win"! (AP) Lineups:South Korea: 1-Lee Woon-jae; 7-Kim Tae-young, 20-Hong Myung-bo (captain), 4-Choi Jin-cheul; 13-Lee Eul-yong, 5-Kim Nam-il, 6-Yoo Sang-chul (Lee Chun-Soo 62nd), 22-Song Chong-guk; 9-Seol Ki-hyeon (Cha Du-ri 89th), 18-Hwang Sun-hong (Ahn Jung-hwan 51st, 21-Park Ji-sung Poland: 1-Jerzy Dudek; 4-Michal Zewlakow, 6-Tomasz Hajto, 15-Tomasz Waldoch (captain), 20-Jacek Bak (Tomasz Klos 51st); 10-Radoslaw Kaluzny (Marcin Zewlakow 65th), 7-Piotr Swierczewski, 18-Jacek Krzynowek, 21-Marek Kozminski; 19-Majiej Zurawski, 11-Emmanuel Olisadebe Referee: Oscar Ruiz (Colombia)

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