With the rain pouring down mercilessly in Cape Town, the performances of both teams were expected to be affected. Still, Portugal made good progress going forward despite Korea DPR’s crowded midfield. In the 7th minute, Ricardo Carvalho almost found the breakthrough with a smashing header from a corner which crashed against the post. Hugo Almeida also thought to have come close minutes later but the referee whistled for offside.
Surprisingly, it was the North Koreans who created the most genuine attempt on goal through Jong-Hyok Cha’s 11th minute impressive long range strike. Portugal’s goalkeeper Eduardo acrobatically stretched himself wide trying to clear the ball, but was happy to see it go away for a goal kick. He was nearly tested again when Korea DPR broke forward for the second time in the game. Unfortunately for the Asians, Tae-Se Jong’s flick was poor enough not to trouble the keeper.
At the dislike of Portuguese fans, North Korea did better in attack than Portugal as they exposed the Europeans’ weakness in dealing with counter attacking situations. Captain Yong-Jo Hong forced Eduardo to hold his nerves and produce an excellent save before Yong-Hak An almost found the net through a low strike inside the 21st minute. As the game was getting more interesting, Raul Mereiles tried his luck but hit the side of the net a minute before he went for goal again – this time, from a centered position 20 yards from goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo switched flanks, leaving Coentrao to exhibit his creativity down the left hand side of the pitch. The defender immediately had an impact as he squared the ball to Simao Sabrosa in the box who just couldn’t do better than letting his marker clear the ball away. At last, Raul Mereiles got what he deserved after having tried a couple of times. The Porto midfielder clinically drove the ball past Korea DPR’s goal line to finish off Tiago’s marvelous through ball. Portugal had therefore found the vital lead they had worked for since the start of the game as they were in front by a goal to nil after 29 minutes of game played.
Mereiles again should have made it 2-0 six minutes later but he somehow placed his shot off target despite being only 8 yards out. Portugal were looking to be in comfort zone before half time; Cristiano Ronaldo had a very poor shot on goal while Hugo Almeida was to blame for terribly failing to hit the target from 3 yards out so as to thus terminate Fabio Coentrao’s great pass.
Despite performing poorly throughout the 45 minutes that went down the clock before the break, Hugo Almeida kept his place upfront for the second half. Portugal showed their intention to increase their lead as early as inside the first five minutes of second period. Tiago scared North Korea’s shot stopper with a beautiful volley while Cristiano Ronaldo saw his hot Jabulani ball almost deceiving North Korea's defense.
Korea DPR might have felt extremely disappointed after conceding goal number 2 and number 3 in a blink of an eye. The second goal of the game came through Simao Sabrosa. Hugo Almeida made a lovely back heel to Raul Mereiles who sent the Atletico Madrid winger through on goal to easily make it 2-0 after 53 minutes. Three minutes later, Hugo Almeida finally made his mark by doing justice for assist-maker Coentrao by finishing his great cross from the left wing with an unstoppable header. 3-0 to Portugal and Korea DPR’s torturing moments didn’t end just yet.
The Portuguese started doing whatever they wanted with the ball. Cristiano Ronaldo restricted himself to combining with Raul Mereiles and create chances as Deco’s replacement, Tiago, took his opportunity to score the game’s fourth goal on the hour mark. Once the Portuguese had totally taken hold of the game, it was down for them to make the most of their chances upfront. Raul Mereiles, who got substituted for Miguel Veloso 20 minutes from time, was guilty of a terrible miss as his first time shot from inside the penalty box went off target.
Fabio Coentrao, who stood out as the game’s most dynamic player, was also given the opportunity to get on the scoring sheet. Somehow, the defender sent the ball rolling wide for a goal kick despite having been put through on goal by Cristiano Ronaldo. Like it happened against Cote d’Ivoire, Portugal’s captain came inches away from breaking his goal-drought curse when he smashed a shot from long distance against the crossbar at the 70th minute. Actually, Real Madrid’s CR9 had to wait until the 87th minute before creating history for himself as he netted Portugal’s 6th goal of the game. The forward did score in the funniest of manners, though, with the ball bouncing off the back of his neck as he controlled it past Korea DPR’s goalkeeper.
In between this goal, substitute Liedson had made it 5-0 with a firing shot from a tight angle which punished Kwang-Chon Ri’s dreadful mistake in the penalty box. A minute before the end of regulation time, Tiago clinched a brace with a swinging header as Portugal rounded a perfect victory over the brave North Koreans.
With 4 points and a (+7) goal difference, analysts are already confirming Portugal’s passage into the Round of 16. However, all has not been defined in Group G. Should the Portuguese suffer a trouncing defeat in their last group match similar to the 6-2 loss which they suffered two years ago against Brazil, and should Cote d’Ivoire emulate Portugal’s feat against Korea DPR, then A Selecção of Europe will crash out from the 2010 FIFA World Cup at the expense of the Ivoirians against all the odds.
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