South Korea draw with Nigeria to advance to last 16


Durban : South Korea came back from an early deficit to earn a 2-2 draw with Nigeria on the final day of Group B Tuesday and book their spot in the Round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup.

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In the first World Cup encounter between these two teams, Kalu Uche gave the two-time African champions the lead in the 12th minute before Lee Jung Soo equalised in the 38th. Park Chu Young made it 2-1 for the Asians in the 49th at Durban Stadium and Yakubu Ayegbeni knotted the game again with a penalty in the 69th minute.

After Greece lost 2-0 against Argentina, South Korea finished in second place with four points to advance to knock-out stage for the second time in history, following their semi-final at the 2002 World Cup on home soil.

The Asians’ next opponent will be Group A winners Uruguay Saturday.

Nigeria, who reached the second round in 1994 and 1998, finished last in the Group B with one point. The Super Eagles have not won in their last eight World Cup matches including six losses – dating back to their 1-0 victory over Bulgaria at France 1998.

Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback made four changes to the line-up that lost 2-1 loss against Greece. Veteran Nwankwo Kanu was inserted into the starting XI as captain in his first action in South Africa.

In addition, Chinedu Obasi was brought in along with Yussuf Ayila and Rabiu Afolabi while Sani Kaita (red card), Taye Taiwo (injury), Lukman Haruna and Peter Odemwingie headed to the bench.

South Korean coach Huh Jung Moo meanwhile made just one change from their 4-1 loss against Argentina with Cha Du Ri replacing Oh Beom Seok – making up the same line-up which beat Greece 2-0 in the team’s first match of the group.

South Korea was close to grabbing the lead in the second minute with Park Ji Sung passing to Lee Chung Yong, whose shot went just wide right from six yards out.

But Nigeria jumped ahead in the 12th minute on a fine effort by the Super Eagles. Chidi Odiah fought his way down the right side past Kim Jung Woo and sent a low cross into the area where Uche was quicker than Cha and beat Korean keeper Jung Sung Ryong to the right post.

Uche wasn’t far off from a second goal with a long free kick attempt in the 22nd minute which went just wide right. And he was even closer at the 36-minute mark, hammering his long blast off the right post.

The Koreans made Nigeria pay for their ineffectiveness and equalised in the 38th minute. Ki Sung Yeung’s free kick left of goal sailed to the far post where Lee Jung Soo headed past Nigerian keeper keeper Vincent Enyeama.

After receiving so much praise in his team’s two previous losses, Enyeama’s blunder allowed Park Chu Young to give South Korea the lead in the 49th minute. The keeper took a late step to his right after Park had taken his free kick, which curled around the wall and inside the far right post.

Nigeria missed a golden chance to equalise in the 66th minute with Ayila crossing into the box to Yakubu, who somehow slotted wide left of the empty goal from three yards out.

But the Everton forward got his redemption from the spot in the 69th minute. Kim Nam Il took down Obasi in the area and Yakubu stepped for the penalty and blasted it past Jung Sung Ryong left of centre to make it 2-2.

Both sides had superb chances with Park Ji Sung hitting the side netting in the 76th and Obafemi Martins’ looping shot four minutes later went just wide right.

Nigerian Victor Obinna wanted to play on in the tournament but hit the side netting in the 90th minute and a hammer blast went just wide a minute into stoppage time.

Machester United midfielder Par Ji Sung was named Man of the match.