The best description I read of this match during the buildup was Park Ji Sung vs Park The Bus. South Korea, 2002 overachievers over-reliant on Manchester United’s scurrying midfield busybody; Greece aiming to repeat their Euro 2004 trick of boring their opponents to sleep all their way to the trophy. The reality was quite different: Greece were terribly organised, a real shambles; South Korea far greater than the sum of their Parks (sorry).
This was the first match in World Cup 2010 where questions had to be asked of FIFA’s ticketing policy, at least a third of the seats left empty at kick-off. While South Korea v Greece would hardly have had the locals scampering to snap up any spare seats, to see so much empty space on the second day of the World Cup was disappointing.
South Korea took the lead after seven minutes, Ki Sung-Yeung’s free kick helpfully flicked on by Kostantinos Katsouranis, the ball falling to a grateful Lee Jung-soo who volleyed home from close range. Greece themselves may have lead by then, Vasileios Torosidis half-volleying over the bar after just two minutes, but that was as close as they got to scoring in a game South Korea dominated from start to finish.
Their slick passing and hard work recalled their performances under Guus Hiddink when they co-hosted the tournament in 2002, and their dominance was rewarded in the second half when Park Ji Sung robbed Vyntra in defence and sprinted clear, sliding the ball under the advancing keeper to make it 2-0.
It was the very least South Korea’s performance deserved, and but for some poor finishing from Park Chu-Young this might have been even more embarrassing for Greece. Korea face Argentina on Thursday in Johannesburg and will be encouraged by the deficiencies shown by Maradona’s back four against Nigeria. On this evidence Greece might as well start packing.