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S.Korea beat Italy with golden goal

Ahn Jung Hwan shows his joy after heading the winning goal past Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon
Ahn Jung Hwan shows his joy after heading the winning goal past Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon  


Staff and wires

TAEJON, South Korea -- South Koreans are virtually painting the town red in the wake of their historic World Cup victory over one of the tournament favourites, Italy.

A goal in the dying minutes of extra-time gave South Korea an unlikely 2-1 victory over their highly fancied opponents, Italy, sending them into the quarterfinals of the World Cup.(Gallery)

The winning headed golden goal in the 116th minute redeemed Ahn Jung-hwan in one of the most dramatic matches of the tournament, sending the three-time champions Italy home.

South Korea hadn't even won a game at five previous trips to soccer's biggest event.

It came just hours after co-host Japan lost to Turkey 1-0 at Miyagi on Tuesday. (Turkey end Japan's Cup dreams)

With a penalty shootout looming, Ahn, who had missed a penalty after five minutes of normal time, leapt high to glance in the winner after Italy had looked likely winners after scoring in the first half.

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Two minutes from normal time, the raucous crowd of 39,000 Red Devils supporters had been sent into raptures when Seol Ki-hyeon latched on to a Christian Panucci error to rap the ball into the right-hand bottom corner for an equaliser.(Korea erupts with joy)

The defeat was pure agony for Italy who had Francesco Totti sent off for diving in extra time. The Italians lost the European Championship final two years ago to France on a golden goal also after a late equaliser in normal time.

Earlier, a simple 18th minute headed goal from Christian Vieri looked to have put Italy through when he met a corner from the left at the near post to net.

Korea were rueing a missed fifth-minute penalty kick by Ahn -- Korea's only Italian-based player, with Perugia -- whose drive was saved by keeper Gianluigi Buffon diving to his right.

Italy had lost in a penalty shootout at the last three World Cups including the 1994 final against Brazil.

The defeat has left a sour taste in the mouth of some Italian officials, who have suggested that behind-the-scenes-powers had worked to hand South Korea their 2-1 victory. (Italian reaction)

"Korea is a powerful country. It's clear that they would have done something. I've never in my life seen refereeing that bad," Raffaele Ranucci, the head of the Italian soccer delegation to the World Cup, told Italy's RAI state television.

Christian Vieri, left, celebrates with Mark Iuliano after his first-half goal
Christian Vieri, left, celebrates with Mark Iuliano after his first-half goal  

"The referee was a disgrace. It was like something out of a comedy film."

Asked if he had said anything to Ecuador referee Byron Moreno after the game, Ranucci replied: "We said something to the referee in the changing rooms. We are angry and disappointed. It's not fair that a country like Italy can be humiliated like this," Reuters news agency reported.

Vieri had the chance to snatch the victory for Italy but he skied high from a couple of metres out as Korea were caught on the break.

In extra time dominated by Korea, Francesco Totti went tumbling in the area under a challenge but instead of awarding a penalty as the Italians hoped, the referee booked him for a second time and he was controversially dismissed.

Korea had been desperately hoping to reach the last eight and trump co-hosts and arch rivals Japan, who lost earlier in the day.

But they had largely failed to recreate the quicksilver football which had brought them through the group stage of the tournament but were given the opportunity for a flying start.

Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno judged Panucci to have tugged Seolto the ground as they jostled for position at a corner kick.

South Korea's Seol Ki Heyon, left, is hugged by Lee Young Pyo after his goal
South Korea's Seol Ki Heyon, left, is hugged by Lee Young Pyo after his goal  

Ahn hit his spotkick low and hard to Buffon's right but the big goalkeeper got down well and parried the ball to safety.

Vieri made them pay 13 minutes later, escaping his marker to find the net with a trademark goal-poacher's header at the near post. His goal takes his World Cup finals tally to nine, equalling an Italian record.

The penalty miss, and the Italian goal, appeared to take the wind out of the Koreans, although it did little to stem the incessant chanting and drumming from the red-shirted fans in Taejon's World Cup stadium.

Italy captain Paolo Maldini marshalled the Italian back line superbly and Giovanni Trapattoni's team hardly seemed to miss the absence of the injured Alessandro Nesta and suspended Fabio Cannavaro.

Korea's best chance came early in the second half when Ahn skewed a shot over the freekick after the Koreans had surprised the Italian centrebacks with a quick freekick.

Italian leftback Francesco Coco played most of the match with a bandaged head after receiving a nasty gash above his left eye just before the break. Coco was accidently elbowed in the face by team mate Damiano Tomassi as the two players went up to defend a corner.

The Koreans, who had delighted millions of fans across the country with their swashbuckling performances in the group stage, had never got this far in the tournament before.






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