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World Cup Diary

BATTLE OF THE ARMISTICE POWERS

GAME 29, GROUP G, JUNE 18, 2006 --LEIPZIG LIVE COMMENTARY NOW!
FRANCE 1, SOUTH KOREA 1
FINAL

You know your World Cup day is in dire straits when it's left up to the French to save its honor: Two goals in two plodding games isn't the way to spend father's day. The French of course are still looking for their first goal; in eight years. They haven't scored one since their last one against Brazil, in the 90th minute of the 1998 final in Paris, capping a team hat trick. The French have done so well at losing that you have to give it to the Koreans as this game's favorites. France, an underdog in its own backyard! Well, maybe not. Surely they want to put on an exhibition. Surely they want redemption. This day needs it.

3... We begin with the usual mind-numbing comments from commentators, who suggest to France to "wait, sit back and wait" until the opportunity to score presents itself. This after eight years of scorelessness.

6... Not a bad start at all for the French: dominating, crafty, aggressive. Two shots already. The Koreans look like players seen from an airplane, against a backdrop of mountainous French.

9...THE DROUGHT IS OVER... GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL FRANCE--who else, Henry! fifa remindsus that this is actually the first French goal in World Cup play, off of French soil, in 20 years!

It was a pass by Sylvain Wiltord inside the box to Henry, who controlled it in a couple of touches to fake out the keeper before sending it it into the net.

16... Fast, physical game so far still favoring the French who are making every attempt on lose balls and outrunning and outmuscling the orange men of Korea: they only look Dutch. But since that goal, no real attempts by either side. The battle is all between the two boxes.

21... An adventurous play by the Koreans, who held the ball in their own end for an interminable 15 seconds, then lobbed it high and fast toward a striker rushing goal, only to find a French head for the bounce out of play for the corner. The Koreans can't hope to do much damage from the corner, but they haven't been able to penetrate the French's Maginot Line either.

The highest the Koreans have soared so far today.

25... Henry is all over the ball. French free kick, 35 yards out. Korean Wall building. Zidane? Henry again, the ball rolls off the wall for a corner: even when things don't go France's way, they maintain possession. Corner headed out over the crossbar by Zidane.

27... Henry again by himself surrounded by two Koreans in the box, and taken down, but deemed a fair tackle by the Mexican ref.

FRANCE WAS JUST DENIED A GOAL! THE BALL WAS IN! THE BALL WAS IN! But the ref didn't call it. The replay shows it clear as the Kansas sunshine. It was a goal. No go.

36... The French keep at it though. They want their exhibition all the same, and from the looks of it we'll have more goals. BUT THE KOREANS may have a couple of things to say about that: Free kick from outside the French box, flicked just past the post, Barthez is grateful for his luck.

39... Zidane just got away with a handball inside the Korean box. Great attacking by the French, with style and determination--and Henry on every ball. He knows the goals are coming.

43... They're singing the Marseillaise in the stands and playing it on the field.

France's Eric Abidal is down and being moved off the field on a stretcher, a minute into injury time. The fall halted an incredible run of attacks by the French.

Half-time. A better game than we've seen so far today from the four previous teams, a better game we've seen from France since Mitterand was president, but not as good a game for Korea, who look outmatched at every position.

Tout Henry, Tout a moi par Toutatis

SECOND HALF

It should be a 2-0 game at this point, but let's not dwell. Off we go: Korea on the ball. Frabce oddly enough will not be guaranteed a second round berth unles sit holds on here and gets a point in its game against Togo. Doesn't look difficult, but this is France, who make everything hard on themselves.

50... I just realized why this game, despite its relative one-sidedness, and aside from its free-flowingness on the boot of Henry, has been so oddly pleasant: onlt two yellos all game long (and what, just one free kick?)

52... France's Wiltord with a long shot on goal, wide. Korea with a great bending free kick into the box, headed out. The ref (and the stoppages) might as well be non-existent.

60... For all the hoopla around Zidane, he's been pretty mnuch of a non-entity in this game: grand-pere est trop fatigue. No fatigue for the rest of this team. But could it pull off such a dominating performance against a team its own size? One goal just won't be so convincing.

65... French-Korean collision at midfield: the only thing that has managed to slow down this game. Korea has had all of 2 shots, neither of them on goal. France have taken 10 shots, just three on goal. The game can easily be the victim of a tie at this point despite the French's dominating play. Barthez, the French keeper, is beginning to play the philosopher every time he gets the ball for a goal-kick, burning up the clock. The Koreans are playing a man down from that injury earlier.

72... Ahn is in the game--that's the guy who mimicked the ice-skater Ahn at the 2002 World Cup, when he scored an extra-time goal against Italy (sending Korea to the quarterfinals), to make fun and deride the "contested" gold by the US' Apollo Ohno.

[Leipzig, where this game is being played, is where Bach spent some of his most prolific years. Go here for a taste.]

79... The French shouldn;t be celebratring too soon. A flurry of Korean attacks have taken the French by surprise, giving keeper Barthez some work and the French Republic some flutters and GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL KOREA!

Where was Bartzez?

A great cross for Cho right in front of goal, he doesn't quite slam it in so much as taps it in, as France's Galas displays France's desperation by taking the ball, slamming it in the Leipzig sky and screaming his lungs out at no one in particular. He can;t believe it. But if you had your pulse on this game's last few minutes, you sure can. The French were celebrating too early (keeping in mind that they're on the ereciving end of one of the most obviously flagarnat bad calls of this tournament, having been denied a goal that had obviously and entirely been been one).

84... Meanwhiel we've had two strong French attacks, the last one by Zidane, who also got himself a yellow for pushing down a player on the way to a fantastic pass to Henry, who was one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot went into the keeper's arms.

France doesn't manage more than a draw in this, and its future in this World Cup is in doubt. Korea's draw makes its chances quite good, as Korea already has 3 points.

Take that, France!

90... Ne m'appelez plus jamais France, la France, elle s'est laisse tomber

92... Free kick Korea, outside the box... Korea have done it: they've Kept France to an incredible draw, changing the t6enor of the game half-way through the second half and changing the complexion of the group: France are hanging by a thread, Korea are in command. Too bad about that French goal that was disallowed, but these things are the stuff of football. A good stronmg game from start to finish for its entartainment value, another performance the French will question deep into the twenty second century.

 

 

 

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