Great Britain and South Korea had an epic battle for the semis slot, and after extra time and penalties, the Koreans actually took it.
The Koreans in the 29th minute made the first strike in the match, when Ji Dongwon nailed a left-footed shot into the far side of the goal. But in the 36th minute, the Koreans gave up a penalty kick after a handball, and Aaron Ramsey did not waste the opportunity. The Welshman had a chance to get a second goal from the spot shortly thereafter, but he failed to convert though.
Daniel Sturridge’s failed to trick the South Korean reserve keeper, Lee Bum-young, as another shoot-out experience happened.
This was déjà vu all over again: an Englishman missed a penalty in a tournament quarter-final.
It had all started promisingly for Pearce’s Anglo-Welsh collection in the shoot-out. Aaron Ramsey, Tom Cleverley, Craig Dawson and Ryan Giggs all converted their kicks but the Koreans were a match, with Jack Butland unable to stop them.
When Sturridge failed to convert, it was left to Ki Sung-yeung to apply the finishing blow.
Pearce stated that he “felt excited” when the game went to penalties. “From day one, we had practised penalties, done our research and I made us favourites.”
"There were 10 good penalties, their keeper did very well to get a hand to Daniel’s penalty.” Pearce has a somewhat troubled record in penalty shoot-outs as player and manager.
Korea’s coach, Hong Myung-Bo, has a far more positive record with penalties, striking the winner in the quarter-final shoot-out defeat of Spain at the 2002 World Cup.
His team showed great resilience, ignoring the booing by many Great Britain fans, to win the right to play Brazil in the semi-finals at Old Trafford.
“I have watched many international tournaments and England struggled when it came to shoot-outs so I had a strong belief myself without telling the players,’’ said Hong.
“The only thing I told them was to kick the ball with confidence. Great Britain have famous players who play for big clubs and have much higher salaries than our players but I thought we could use the differences to motivate our players.”
Korea had started with the strongest, aggressive lineup they had, perhaps motivated by the offer from their Government of waiving their two-year National Service if they return carrying the gold medal. With this performance, they might have a chance.
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