France’s disappointing start to the World Cup continued when they were held 1-1 by South Korea.
In a match that France dominated but were unable to finish off following Thierry Henry’s early goal, South Korea delivered a sucker punch with minutes remaining to earn a valuable point for Dick Advocaat’s side.
South Korea started with Ahn Jung-Hwan, who scored against Togo, on the bench. Kim Dong-Jin comes into the defence and Kim Nam-Il plays in midfield.
France coach Raymond Domenech made one change from the side that drew with Switzerland, Florent Malouda coming in for Franck Ribery.
With France looking much livelier than they had in their opening game, Henry created an early opening for former club-mate Sylvain Wiltord but the striker’s effort was blocked by Woon-Jae Lee.
The early French pressure paid off on 9 minutes when Henry, looking to silence those critics who claimed his international performances did not match his club form, collected Wiltord’s deflected shot and calmly stroked the ball past Woon-Jae Lee. It was France’s first World Cup goal since the final at the Stade de France eight years.
Henry had a chance to add a second when he was put through by Patrick Vieira but he was hustled off the ball and despite the striker’s claim for a penalty the referee correctly waved play on.
South Korea had a fortunate break just after the half hour mark when Vieira headed past Woon-Jae Lee from a corner and although the ball clearly crossed the line the referee was unsighted and waved play on.
South Korea’s best chance came from a Chun-Soo Lee free-kick which floated dangerously close to Barthez’s far post, but other than that minor scare France were in control of the game.
The second half continued in a similar vein to the opening period with France in control and South Korea unable to forge any openings. The approach of Dick Advocaat’s team was one-dimensional with the long ball the preferred route forward. However, such a tactic merely played into the hands of Gallas and Thuram who towered over the Korean forwards.
Although France were dominant they never looked like adding a second goal to make the match secure. The introduction of Ribery gave the team some much-needed energy, but for the most part the game was controlled by Vieira and Makelele, both of whom ensured that the game was played at a pace to suit the French.
However, with France in complete control of the game South Korea somehow scored an equaliser. A deep cross from the substitute Seol was headed across the face of face of the goal and in nipped Park Ji-Sung to deflect the ball over Barthez. France looked distraught, as well they might, given their supremacy in the preceding 80 minutes.
Henry should have wrapped the points up for France when he was put through by Zidane, but he shot weakly at Woon-Jae Lee. In a frantic finale Seol had a goal-bound shot blocked by Thuram as both sides pushed for a winner.
France only had themselves to blame. They paid a heavy price for settling for a one-goal lead in a match that they had controlled from the off. Although it was a much-improved performance, that will come as scant consolation to Raymond Domenech, who will now face the wrath of the French press.
France: Barthez, Abidal, Gallas, Thuram, Sagnol, Malouda, Vieira, Makelele, Zidane, Wiltord, Henry.
Subs used: Ribery 60 (for Wiltord), Dhorasoo 88 (for Malouda), Trezeguet 91 (for Zidane).
Bookings: Abidal 79, Zidane 85.
South Korea: Woon-Jae Lee, Young-Chul Kim, Dong-Jin Kim, Choi, Young-Pyo Lee, Nam-Il Kim, Ji-Sung Park, Eul-Yong Lee, Ho Lee, Chun-Soo Lee, Jae-Jin Cho.
Subs used: K Seol 46 (for Eul-Yong Lee), Sang-Sik Kim 69 (for Ho Lee), Ahn 72 (for Chun-Soo Lee).
Bookings: Ho Lee 11, Dong-Jin Kim 28.
Referee: Benito Archundia Tellez (Mexico).
France: Henry 9
France: Park Ji-Sung 81