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Korea outclassed by Brazil, out of World Cup

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Korea's Son Heung-min embraces his teammate Paik Seung-ho at the end of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and Korea at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Dec. 5. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk
Korea's Son Heung-min embraces his teammate Paik Seung-ho at the end of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and Korea at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Dec. 5. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

By John Duerden

DOHA, Qatar ― South Korea is out of the World Cup, losing 4-1 to Brazil at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, on Monday evening. This Round of 16 clash was a painful experience though it could have been a great deal worse with the winner easing off in the second half. Brazil won 5-1 in Seoul in June but this time, the world was watching and while Korea will always have the memory of Friday's famous win over Portugal, this is also a lesson that should not be forgotten. The Taeguk Warriors made it too easy for a very talented team.

Brazil will not remember this game long, it was as comfortable as it gets in the knockout stage of a World Cup against an opponent that was far too open and accommodating. The five-time champion was on a different level and is the favorite to go on and win title number six.

Brazil's Neymar scores from the penalty spot for his side's second goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and South Korea, at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. AP-Yonhap
Brazil's Neymar scores from the penalty spot for his side's second goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and South Korea, at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. AP-Yonhap

It was always going to be a long shot for the Asian team then but in truth, Paulo Bento's men gave Brazil too much space and time. It meant that the dream was over almost before it started. Korea hadn't settled and found itself two goals behind after 11 minutes. First, Raphinha danced past Hwang In-beom's sliding challenge on the right side of the area and fired in a low cross. It was meant for Neymar, returning from injury, but fed through to Vinicius Jr. With defenders and goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu rushing to close him down, the Real Madrid winger took his time and floated the ball into the opposite corner.

Son Heung-min of South Korea, right, in action against Marquinhos of Brazil during the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and South Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. EPA-Yonhap
Son Heung-min of South Korea, right, in action against Marquinhos of Brazil during the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and South Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. EPA-Yonhap

Soon after, Jung Woo-young tried to clear in the area and instead just caught Richarlison. It was a harsh penalty but Neymar didn't care. The most expensive player in soccer history stepped up and, as he did twice in June in Seoul, waited for Kim to move first before coolly rolling the ball home.

The Korean players looked rattled. Then Hwang Hee-chan let fly from almost 30 meters with a shot that was just creeping into the top corner but there was Alisson to push the ball away. There were, at least, some encouraging signs as Hwang was, by some distance, Korea's best and most dangerous player with Son Heung-min struggling to get into the game.

Brazil's Neymar is in action with Korea's Lee Jae-sung, Dec. 5. Reuters-Yonhap
Brazil's Neymar is in action with Korea's Lee Jae-sung, Dec. 5. Reuters-Yonhap

However, the game was snuffed out just before the half-hour as Brazil cut through once more in majestic fashion. Casemiro's pass split the defense and there was Richarlison to shoot past Kim. It was beautiful but cruel and the Koreans must have been wishing for half-time, even full-time as there was no coming back from this. It got worse after 35 minutes with Lucas Paqueta volleying home. Brazil had chances to score three more goals before the break but the South Americans were getting a little complacent with all the space they had every time they attacked.

Players of Brazil celebrate the opening goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and South Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. EPA-Yonhap
Players of Brazil celebrate the opening goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and South Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. EPA-Yonhap

Understandably Brazil's intensity dropped in the second half and the expected goal count did not continue. Instead, with 14 minutes remaining, Paik Seung-ho smashed home a fierce half-volley from well outside the area. It, at least, gave the fans something to cheer for.

In the end, it could have been a lot worse. At half-time, there were real fears of a genuine thrashing. At that time, 4-1 would have been gratefully accepted. Korea was well-beaten by a better team though there will be some regret that it was never a contest and the result was never in doubt.

Eder Militao, left, of Brazil in action against Son Heung-min of Korea during the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. EPA-Yonhap
Eder Militao, left, of Brazil in action against Son Heung-min of Korea during the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 5. EPA-Yonhap

And so ends the World Cup for Korea and probably the reign of coach Paulo Bento, after more than four years. Both could have been better but could also have been worse.


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