"Hiddink, make our dream come true" read the banner in the stadium in Busan. And the ex Real Madrid and Valencia manager took co-hosts Korea the first step of the way with their first ever victory in a World cup finals match. The excitement in the ground was almost unbearable as the teams came out, and the streets of the country were deserted as the match kicked off. Their opponents Poland though were expected to be one of the dark horses of the tournament having been the first European side to qualify, and they gave the local fans a fright in the second minute when Krzynowek shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
However Korea settled down quickly, and Hwang Sun-Hong sent his supporters into a frenzy with a first time volley into the bottom corner of Dudek's net from Lee Eul-Yong's cross midway through the half. The referee upset the crowd disallowing a strike from Park Ji-Sung for offside before the break, but Yoo Sang-Chul fired in a shot soon after the restart which the Liverpool keeper could only push into his own net for a second goal. The celebrations began early, and a victory in their next match against USA could see them through into the second round. The dream may be starting to become reality.
Spanish league players: None.
Surely the most exciting game in the World cup so far, and an even bigger surprise than the opening game! A Portuguese side packed with top stars were sent reeling as the unfancied Americans hit three goals in the first half hour or so of the game to leave the Europeans with one foot out of the tournament. US coach Bruce Arena controversially left some of his top names out of the starting line up, but he was vindicated early on when John O'Brian beat Vitor Baia in the fifth minute after the keeper had saved from Brian McBride. Baia's inclusion had also caused a stir amongst supporters as he had hardly played a game all season, and after almost giving away a goal with a poor punch from Stewart's free kick, he was beaten for a second time when Jorge Costa deflected Donovan's cross into his own net.
Pauleta should have scored a couple of times, but incredibly it was the Americans who extended their lead when McBride dived to head home Beasley's cross. Portugal did get one back before the break when Beto took advantage of a failed clearance by O'Brian to beat Friedel. However try as they might in the second half they could not get the ball in the net, and in the end it was one of their opponents Agoos who spectacularly headed the ball into his own goal to set up a heart-stopping finish. The result opens up group D, with the two European favourites both defeated in their first games.
Spanish league players: Figo was looking forward to this match, and was apparently back to full match fitness after going through a bad spell towards the end of the season. However he hardly featured in one of Portugal's worst performances in recent times. Espanyol's Paulo Sousa was also in the starting line up.
The dream is still alive for South Korea, although they let the USA off the hook and now have to get a result against Portugal to be sure of staying in the competition. A fanatical capacity crowd saw their heroes fall behind to a first half goal by USA's forgotten man, Clint Mathis, who controlled John O'Brien's through ball before shooting low past the keeper. The star striker had been left out of the first game, presumably because of his silly Mohican haircut? American keeper Brad Friedel made a couple of good saves as Korea came back, and then stopped a penalty later in the half from Lee Eul-Yong when Agoos pushed down a heavily bandaged Hwang Sun-Yong in the area.
The second half continued in the same vein, with the home side going close on two or three occasions. The pressure paid off, and substitute Ahn Jung-Hwan finally made it all square heading home a long free kick from Lee Eul-Yong, the players celebrating the goal imitating their ice speed-skater who came first in the Olympic final but was later disqualified in favour of an American skater. It was a controversial display in a game which was considered high risk by FIFA following anti-American feelings in the pre-match build up. In the dying minutes Lee Eul-Yong broke through, but he waited to long and his pass back to Choi Yong-Soo was too late for him to take full advantage. The honours were shared, and both have a reasonable chance of making the last sixteen.
Spanish league players: None.
Nobody expected these two teams to come in to this match fighting for survival, but after first round defeats both knew that the loser would already be on their way home. The two managers made little changes to their sides though, relying on the same block of players to get them out of trouble. The game took place in a heavy rainstorm which at times made the pitch virtually unplayable. However Pauleta for one did not seem to have many problems, and after sending two warning shots over the bows of Dudek's goal, he collected a long ball from Joao Pinto to shoot inside the keeper's near post with a quarter of an hour gone.
Nerves started to become frayed as the game wore on, and Hajto was lucky to stay on the pitch when Scottish referee Hugh Dallas failed to spot a stamping incident on a Portuguese player. He did however award a free kick for Portugal in the second half when Kryszalowicz challenged Vitor Baia strongly for a high ball and headed the resulting rebound into the net, a decision which proved to be a turning point in the game. After that Poland's challenge faded, and Pauleta got ahead of his defender to turn in Figo's cross and make it two only a couple of minutes later.
The move had been started by Rui Costa, who had only just come on as substitute, and he set up Pauleta for his hat-trick ten minutes later with a long ball in from midfield. Costa himself added a fourth near the end when Capucho laid the ball across, and should have got another after a crisp passing move left the Polish players and the fans breathless. Portugal are back on song, but still need to beat South Korea in their last game to be sure of qualifying. A draw would only be enough if Poland beat the USA in their last match.
Spanish league players: Real Madrid's Figo proved to everyone that rumours of his footballing demise are premature, setting up the second goal and hitting the post in a brilliant display of football by his side. Espanyol's Paulo Sousa once again didn't get a game. No other current players, but hat-trick hero Pauleta did have an albeit fairly unsuccessful spell at Deportivo La Coruña before moving on to Bordeaux and keeper Vitor Baia was of course at Barcelona for a couple of seasons or so.
Another surprise in this atypical World cup, with well fancied Portugal failing to reach the second round of the competition. Their big win over Poland in the last game seemed to have made up for their shock defeat at the hands of USA in their opener, but once again they fell to a team who are not considered to be serious opposition. These were the co-hosts South Korea though, and the stadium was packed with fanatical supporters as World cup fever took hold of the country. The Koreans moved the ball around quickly, and they found themselves with numerical advantage midway through the first half when a nervous Joao Pinto lunged into Park Ji-Sung with a high two-footed tackle. Argentine referee Angel Sánchez had no choice but to send him off, and a few minutes later disallowed a goal by Korea when Choi Jin-Cheul fouled keeper Vitor Baia.
Portugal came close to scoring after the break when Pauleta's header went just wide, but then found themselves with nine men when Beto picked up a second booking. It was too much for them, and with twenty minutes to go Park Ji-Sung sent the home fans into delirium, controlling a ball on his chest before shooting through Baia's legs. With Poland beating USA in the other game, Portugal only needed a draw to go through, and they came forward valiantly. Figo sent a free kick just wide and Sergio Conceiçao hit the post, but when Lee Woon-Jae saved a last gasp effort from the midfielder it was all over. South Korea go through as group winners to meet Italy, and Portugal go home to prepare for Euro 2004, which is being held in their country. The streets of Korea were filled with revellers, which probably included Guus Hiddink, who had just secured a one million euro bonus for taking his side through to the next round. He earned it.
Spanish league players: Luis Figo had a better game, but has not shined in this World cup and goes home for a well earned rest after a long season. Paulo Sousa did not play again, and leaves Korea without making an appearance.
Poland finally showed the world what they are capable of, but it came to late to ensure their continuity in the tournament. Already eliminated after their first two games, Jerzy Engel made several changes to his side, and the new faces brought a breath of fresh air to the side. The United States only needed a draw to be sure of going through, and they came into this match over-confident after beating Portugal and drawing with Korea. They found themselves two down within the first five minutes however, first of all when Olisadebe beat Friedel at the second attempt and then when Kryszalowicz hit a shot inside the near post.
Chinese referee Mr. Lu disallowed a strike by Donovan for a previous foul in between the two goals, but otherwise the Americans had no answer against the Polish steamroller. Friedel kept out several efforts, but eventually the Europeans got a third when Zewlakow beat the keeper with a header from close up midway through the second half. And Poland could have made it four from the penalty spot when Sanneh brought down Kryszalowicz, but Friedel saved Zurawski's kick.
Despite all this USA were still qualified to play Mexico, as Korea were beating Portugal in the other group match, and Donovan gave them some joy as well with a consolation goal near the end. The unthinkable had happened, and two of Europe's strongest sides had been eliminated by North American and Asian opposition. The revolution has begun.
Spanish league players: None.