Brazil 2014: Good start for Korea - draws with Russia 1:1Updated: 2014-06-18 18:21:28 (KST)
World Cup fever officially took Korea by storm this morning, as tens of thousands of people in red shirts gathered on streets throughout the country, and many millions more at home, to watch Korea's first World Cup match against Russia.
Korea found the back of the net first to take a 1-nil lead, but unfortunately let in an equalizer near the end and that's how it finished. ONE-ONE.
Our sports correspondent Song Ji-sun is joining us right here in the studio.
So, Ji-sun a draw. Not bad given what we saw in recent warm-up matches.
Better than many had expected.
After multiple failed attempts to score in the first half -- the goal came from Lee Keun-ho who replaced Park Chu-young at the striker position in the second half.
Just 12 minutes after stepping on to the pitch, Lee Keun-ho fired a strong long-range shot that the Russian goalkeeper failed to punch out of the net.
It was Lee's first goal in his first World Cup, who's been mostly playing in the K-League.
Nonetheless, we definitely saw an improvement in the squad's performance - not only in skills - but teamwork and -- to me it seemed like the kind of spirit and passion, the unity has returned to Team Korea -- the kind that led the Korean squad to the semifinals back in 2002.
But of course, winning this game and earning three points could have made it easier or more possible for Korea to finish atop the group although we do have Belgium in the group.
Unfortunately, Korea only had the lead for six minutes before Russia made it ONE-ONE.
Russia's Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored easily as Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryoung could not get back in position after blocking a shot by Alan Dzagoev.
Korea's defenders were not aligned properly for the sudden attack -- something they'll surely work on leading into their next match.
So where do the teams stand in the group and when's the next game?
Things look to be in Korea's favor, as Belgium beat Algeria 2-1 in their earlier game.
Belgium is in the lead after their win Tuesday, while Korea and Russia share second place after their draw this morning.
After resting for four days, the teams play in their critical second match on Sunday local time.
Belgium will play against Russia in Rio de Janeiro first -- then Korea and Algeria face off in Porto Alegre.
After the second game, it's usually clear whether a team will be making it to the next round, especially if they've won or lost twice.
But things get a bit more complicated when teams tie, like we saw this morning.
The Korean squad MUST beat Algeria this coming Sunday before going up against Belgium in the last match.
The most ideal scenario is that Belgium defeats Russia, and Korea beats Algeria in the second matches since Russia's competing with us for second place, and Algeria has already lost one.
It seems like the teams in Group H are pretty even. Do you think Team Korea has a shot in making it to the round of 16?
We are ranked lowest in FIFA rankings but in the World Cup, numbers aren't everything.
An interesting fact -- is that all the teams in Group H, except for Algeria -- have made it to the semi-finals once before in previous World Cups.
If you take a look at the stats - you can see there isn't much of a gap between the four teams in terms of their physical size.
But none of them can be overlooked.
As you can see, they all qualified first in their groups for this World Cup.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the players must be wary of being too aggressive as captain Koo Ja-cheol, Son Heung-min and Ki Sung-yueng all got yellow cards against Russia today.
If they get another one, they won't be allowed to play in the following match.
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