Korean dream ends
Ballack lifts Germany past co-host, into seventh Cup finalPosted: Tuesday June 25, 2002 7:30 AM
Updated: Tuesday June 25, 2002 3:23 PM
SEOUL (Reuters) -- Germany's recovery from the lowest moment in their soccer history was completed in style on Tuesday when they ended South Korea's dream run with a 1-0 semifinal win to reach their seventh World Cup final.
Michael Ballack scored the only goal 15 minutes from time but he will miss Sunday's Yokohama final, against Brazil or Turkey, through suspension.
Two years ago, Germany were knocked out in the first round of the European Championship after a run of dismal performances and only qualified for the current finals through a playoff. (Analysis)
But after conceding just one goal their six-game run to the final their confidence is fully restored as they seek to lift the game's biggest prize for the fourth time following their successes as West Germany in 1954, 1974 and 1990. (German fans celebrate return to elite)
The latest semifinal win was hard-earned as they were matched throughout in an end-to-end game by Asia's first representatives in the last four, who were backed by a fervent crowd of 65,000. (South Korea keeps on partying in defeat)
But Germany's extra experience and mental toughness proved too much for co-hosts, who had never won a World Cup finals match before this year in 14 attempts spanning five tournaments.
"At halftime I just knew that we were going to get the goal to put us out of our misery because we were quite clearly the better team," said German coach Rudi Voeller, who played in the 1990 final and who deserves much of the credit for turning the side around.
Brazil and Turkey play the other semifinal on Wednesday in Saitama, Japan. Germany have never played four-time winners Brazil in the 72-year history of the World Cup.
"The German team were a little bit more experienced. We tried to close them down in the second half but in general we showed a little too much respect," said Korea's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, who also went out in the semifinals four years ago when in charge of the Netherlands.
Germany defender Christoph Metzelder paid tribute to the Koreans' never-say-die spirit that took them so far in the tournament.
"South Korea deserve a lot of respect for the way they played. They never stopped trying," he said.
"The crowd were just fantastic. It was a piece of hard work but we fought well and we played good football.
"I'm happy that the game is over. We will have a drink or two tonight, then we'll start thinking about the final."
Hiddink started with a new-look three-man front line as he tried to keep his team fresh after playing two 120-minute matches in the last week.
The tactic appeared to pay off with youngsters Lee-Chun-soo and Cha Doo-ri looking sharp from the start as the Koreans showed no hint of nerves in by far the biggest game of any of their lives.
German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, his team's savior in the quarterfinal win over the United States, came to the rescue again with a spectacular diving save from Lee Chun-Soo after eight minutes as the hosts almost grabbed a dream start.
They continued to look the more lively side, though Oliver Neuville forced Le Woon-jae into a smart save with a snap volley after 17 minutes.
Miroslav Klose then had a penalty appeal waved away by Swiss referee Urs Meier, whose faultless performance will have restored some faith in officialdom after a series of controversial decisions.
The Germans finished the half on top and as the match progressed, Korea's attacking ideas began to wilt, as did their legs.
Hiddink threw on crowd favourite Ahn Jung-hwan to boost his attack but with Carsten Ramelow fully justifying Voeller's decision to restore him to the center of defense, the Germans looked increasingly solid.
Ballack "sacrificed himself" in the words of Voeller when he cynically brought down Lee Chun-soo as he threatened to burst into the area after 71 minutes, earning his second booking of the knock-out stages and an automatic suspension. (Ballack the tragic hero.)
But four minutes later he was smiling as he smacked in the decisive goal, following up from close range after his initial low shot from an Oliver Neuville cross was parried out by Lee Won-jae.
Korea's only real chance of the last 20 minutes fell to Park Ji-sung in injury time but as he lined up his shot Thomas Linke charged in to put him off, summing up absolutely the German dedication to their cause.
Neuville was also yellow-carded during the match and would also have missed the final had not FIFA overturned his booking against the U.S. in a case of mistaken identity.
The game, played in an excellent spirit, ended with handshakes all round and though the German fans were suddenly heard for the first time, the Koreans went home knowing their team had proved they were in the semifinals on merit.
Germany 1 South Korea 0 - result
World Cup, semifinal
Scorer: Michael Ballack 75
Germany - Michael Ballack 71, Oliver Neuville 85
South Korea - Lee Min-sung 90
Halftime: 0-0; Attendance: 65,256
Germany (3-5-2): 1-Oliver Kahn; 21-Christoph Metzelder, 5-Carsten Ramelow, 2-Thomas Linke; 22-Torsten Frings, 19-Bernd Schneider (16-Jens Jeremies 85), 8-Dietmar Hamann, 13-Michael Ballack, 17-Marco Bode; 11-Miroslav Klose (20-Oliver Bierhoff 70), 7-Oliver Neuville (14-Gerald Asamoah 88)
South Korea (3-4-3): 1-Lee Woon-jae; 4-Choi Jin-cheul (15-Lee Min-sung 56), 20-Hong Myung-bo, 7-Kim Tae-young; 21-Park Ji-sung, 22-Song Chong-gug (9-Seol Ki-hyeon 80), 6-Yoo Sang-chul, 10-Lee Young-pyo; 16-Cha Doo-ri, 18-Hwang Sun-hong (19-Ahn Jung-hwan 54), 14-Lee Chun-soo.
Referee: Urs Meier (Switzerland)
Linesmen: Frederic Arnault (France), Evzen Amler (Czech Republic)
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