Korea snatch draw from stuttering France

18th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

LEIPZIG, June 18, 2006 (AFP) - South Korea grabbed a 1-1 draw with stuttering France in their vital Group G encounter here on Sunday to edge closer to a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup.

LEIPZIG, June 18, 2006 (AFP) - South Korea grabbed a 1-1 draw with stuttering France in their vital Group G encounter here on Sunday to edge closer to a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup.

The 2002 semi-finalists went behind to an early Thierry Henry goal but Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung grabbed the equaliser nine minutes from the end as South Korea staged a grandstand finish.

The win puts South Korea, who beat Togo in their opener, on four points with the under-pressure French on two and perilously close to a second straight exit from the World Cup in the first round.

French coach Raymond Domenech, under fire in some quarters for sticking with an ageing team, put out the country's oldest ever international side with an average age of 30 years and 289 days.

One of the old stagers, thirty-four-year-old defender Lilian Thuram, equalled Marcel Desailly's record of 116 appearances for Les Bleus.

"They really pushed really hard in the second half and we didn't keep the ball long enough," said Domenech.

"We had our chances when it was 1-0 but there is always a risk when it stays 1-0 that you will concede a goal and we did.

"I'm disappointed, but there is still a match to go and we have to hope for the best."

South Korea coach Dick Advocaat said it was a highly creditable result.

"France have a lot of quality and this was a good result," said the Dutchman.

"The first half was very tough and we were lucky to go in at the break only one-nil down. But I tried to gee the lads up in the dressing room and threw on an extra striker to pile on the pressure and that bore fruit."

France opened brightly with Lyon midfielder Florent Malouda, in the side for Frank Ribéry, looking dangerous down the right flank.

The South Korean defence had to look smart in the sixth minute when Henry found Sylvain Wiltord with a neat ball but the Lyon striker's effort was blocked by a defender.

France contined to stream forward and they opened the scoring after just nine minutes following a defence-splitting move.

Wiltord found Henry in the box and the Arsenal striker guided the ball past Korean 'keeper Lee Woon-Jae from six yards out.

It was the quicksilver Henry's 34th strike for France and broke a goal drought for the national team in the World Cup finals stretching back to the victory over Brazil in the 1998 final.

South Korea were showing little as an attacking force but a long ball out of defence worried William Gallas and he was relieved to see his nervy back-header sail over the bar for a corner.

Henry wriggled his way into the box in the 27th minute but was robbed by Spurs wing-back Lee Young-Pyo, the referee waving aside claims for a penalty.

Midfielder Patrick Vieira came close to grabbing a second for the rampaging French in the 31st minute, his goal-bounder header from an inswinging corner from Zinedine Zidane being clawed back by Lee Woon-Jae on the goal line.

Lee Chun-Soo caused the French a problem in the 36th minute with a wickedly swerving free kick. Zidane missed his header and Cho Jae-Jin, a surprise inclusion instead of goalscoring hero Ahn Jung-Hwan, just failed to connect at the back post.

Advocaat put on Wolves winger Seol Ki-Hyeon, who scored against France in South Korea's 3-2 loss just ahead of the 2002 World Cup finals, at the start of the second half for midfielder Lee Eul-Yong.

Dead ball specialist Lee Chun-Soo swung in another dangerous free kick in the 55th minute but Kim Dong-Jin mistimed his header and the ball sailed over the bar.

South Korea were quicker to the ball than in the first half and the French front line was being given precious little room despite the promptings from midfield maestro Zidane.

With the clock ticking down, South Korea piled forward and were rewarded with the equaliser in the 81st minute. Seol's cross from wide on the right was headed back across goal by Cho and Park bundled the ball into the net from close range.

France responded quickly and the guile of Zidane created an opening for Henry in the 85th minute but his shot was blocked by the outrushing Lee.

Zidane was substituted in the dying moments, handing his skipper's armband to replacement David Trezeguet.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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