World Cup opener ends in stalemate
Friday, 29 July, 2011
England draw 0-0 with Korea DPR in Medellin.
By Nicholas Veevers in Medellin
England were frustratingly held to a 0-0 draw by Korea DPR in their opening match of the FIFA U20 World Cup in Colombia.
Brian Eastick’s side looked the most likely winners throughout, having fashioned more, and clearer, chances, but some good goalkeeping and brave defending from the Koreans allowed them to hold England at bay for 90 minutes.
The Young Lions were certainly the brighter of the teams in the opening exchanges, enjoying good possession across the field, with Matt Phillips and Billy Knott in particular probing the Korean rearguard.
And it was from Knott’s cross in the 13th minute that England worked Korean goalkeeper Om Jin Song, but he managed to collect at the second time of asking.
Skipper Jason Lowe then did well to win possession on the half-way line before striding towards the Korean area. He knocked the ball to Phillips, whose first-time pass into space was inches away from picking out Knott in a dangerous position.
Saido Berahino was also causing Korea problems with his movement across the front line and when he slipped past his marker in the left channel, his eventual shot hit the side-netting.
England continued to press and when Callum McManaman whipped across a dangerous ball from the left in the 30th minute, captain Jang Song Hyok was forced into a desperate hacked clearance which flew behind for a corner but could have gone anywhere in truth.
Korea were forced into another desperate clearance in the 33rd minute when Berahino’s shot was parried by Om Jin Song as far as McManaman, whose follow up was blocked on the line by a combination of ‘keeper and defender before Ri Hyong Mu managed to clear the danger.
The Asian champions had to clear their lines yet again three minutes later, when Lowe’s cross from the right was heading for Berahino before Jang Song Hyok performed the heroics again for his side.
Berahino then turned provider, teasing Ri Hyong Mu on the right before placing a fine centre, which Knott could only head over at full stretch in the 39th minute.
Phillips tried his luck with a low shot from just outside the area soon after, which flew narrowly wide of the post and then Knott hit a pacy long range shot, again narrowly off target and with the Korean 'keeper scrambling across his line.
With half-time just seconds away, Knott had the best opportunity of the game when Blair Adams’ deep cross from the left picked him out at the far post. Unfortunately though, the Sunderland man and smallest player in the team could only guide his headed effort into the side netting.
The half-time whistle sounded with England wondering just how they weren’t ahead, as Berahino went close in stoppage time only to see Om Jin Song save his left-footed shot.
England continued where they left off and within a few minutes of the re-start, Om Jin Song punched Adams’ chipped cross behind for a corner before Berahino fired another shot narrowly over.
The Koreans were proving a resilient bunch though and as the half went on, they managed to keep England at relative arm’s length mainly down to the sheer weight in numbers in their half of the field and hoping to hit the Lions on the break.
Eastick introduced both Josh Morris and Dean Parrett in a bid to break the deadlock, with England looking increasingly frustrated against a hard working and athletic outfit.
With just three minutes remaining, a slick interchange between the captain and Parrett saw the latter have a strike at goal, but it flew over the bar and the Koreans managed to hold on for a point.