All who believed Portugal were a spent force need look no further than their second-half destruction of the North Koreans, when Christiano Ronaldo and his team turned up the heat and incinerated their opposition. It ended Portugal 7, North Korea 0.
It was one of those games that puzzled soccer pundits all over the world. North Koreans jogged on to Green Point Stadium’s pitch greatly encouraged by their narrow loss against Brazil, while Portugal needed to somehow summon up an entirely new level of energy after they disappointed against Ivory Coast in the first round.
And when they summoned their energy, it turned out to be a nuclear one. While the first half was a hard-fought battle that could have gone either way, and ended with Portugal’s second goal that was pretty much against the run of the play, the second half was the one that will become the stuff of legends: Portugal ran completely wild, and, after Tiago’s first and Portugal’s fourth goal, were mostly unopposed by the demoralised North Korean defence that had been so effective against the Brazilians on Tuesday.
Photo: Portugal’s Tiago (R) celebrates his goal next to North Korea’s goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk during the 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro
By creating history, Portuguese players have now vastly improved their chances of qualifying for the second round. Portugal must be heavily beaten by Brazil and North Korea need to be annihilated yet again by Ivory Coast, for the African team to advance to the second round. The odds of that look impossibly high from this vantage point.
One has to pause a moment to ponder the fate of the North Korean team, though. They fought bravely and earnestly, but Cape Town’s cold and rain could not have been a good moment to meet the resurgent Portugal. Still, they are an honest and hard-working team that greatly represented their country. Mr Dear Leader, Mr Kim Jong Il, have mercy on them, please.
Here are the reporter’s notes:
Portugal: Eduardo, Bruno Alves, Carvalho, Miguel, Fabio Coentrao, Mendes, Raul Meireles, Tiago, Ronaldo Captain, Simao, Hugo Almeida
North Korea: Myong-Guk Ri, Cha Jong-Hyok, Ri Jun-Il, Ri Kwang-Chon, Pak Chol-Jin, Pak Nam-Chol, Ji Yun-Nam, Mun In-Guk, Ahn Yong-Hak, Jong Tae-Se, Hong Yong-Jo Captain
Portugal made four changes to the side that drew against Ivory Coast
Man of the match
- 3rd minute: Christiano Ronaldo gets the first shot at goal. The ball swerves crazily before falling into Myong-Guk Ri’s hands.
- 4th minute: Ricardo Carvalho makes an attempt, but fluffs it ridiculously. He is a centre back after all.
It is ridiculously wet down there.
- 7th minute: Carvalho hits the upright after a pathetic mistake by the North Korean goalkeeper, who completely missed a save. Score!
Some North Koreans play in a Nike kit, believe it or not.
- 10th minute: Cha Jong-Hyok comes breathlessly close to putting one over Portugal with a hard shot that just goes by Eduardo’s goal.
- 11th minute: Jong Tae-Se’s free kick is way out.
- 14th minute: Jong Tae-Se almost scores when he connects with a cross, but can’t control it for a shot at goal.
- 17th minute: Hong Yong-Jo strikes a low shot at Eduardo, who bundles it out. The rebound falls to Pak Nam-Chol, who fails to tap the header in. That was close. Very close.
- 21st minute: Another attempt by North Korea, this one coming from Ahn Yong-Hak. His shot goes just wide to the right of Eduardo’s goal.
- 22nd minute: Raul Meireles smacks the ball into the side netting. Not bad, considering the wet conditions.
- 25th minute: The North Koreans manage to bring Simao to a skidding halt in the Korean penalty area.
- 28th minute: The poor officiating is back. Hong Yong-Jo is judged to be offside, when he had three players in front of him.
- 28th minute: Tiago does excellently to dissect the Korean defence with a pass, which Raul Meireles connects brilliantly to score a goal.
- 32nd minute: Pak Chol Jin is booked for… I’m not sure what that he did to deserve a cautioning.
- 35th minute: Some sloppy defending from the North Koreans allows Meireles a shot at goal from point-blank range. It goes wide, fortunately for the Koreans.
- 38th minute: A yellow card for Pedro Mendes for a studs-up challenge on a North Korean player. Hong Yong-Jo’s free kick strikes Carvalho in the face.
- 42nd minute: Another Ronaldo shot that bends crazily
- 43rd minute: Hugo Almeida fails to back flip the ball into goal.
- 44th minute: Simao fires a shot into the Korean penalty area, looking for Almeida. He has no luck in this instance.
End of the first half.
- 46th minute: A great strike by Tiago from distance is saved by Myong-Guk Ri
- 47th minute: Yellow card to Hong Yong-Jo.
- 48th minute: Ronaldo sends a shot out of the stadium.
- 48th minute: Another scary moment for Myong-Guk Ri. He fails to control a shot from distance by Ronaldo, and his spill almost falls to Pedro Mendes.
- 50th minute: Free kick to North Korea. Every single Portuguese player is in that penalty area. Jong Tae Se somehow manages to find a way through to Eduardo, but the shot presents no problem for the Portuguese goalkeeper.
- 52nd minute: Fabio Coentrao sets Tiago up with a little cross. Tiago fails to turn his body under pressure and the ball goes out.
- 53rd minute: Simao scores a brilliant goal after being set up by Meireles. Excellent football.
- 55th minute: Hugo Almeida scores a great header after being left completely unmarked by the North Korean defenders.
Photo: Portugal’s Hugo Almeida (bottom) celebrates after scoring against North Korea during a 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro
That was as brilliant a goal as we’ve seen in this World Cup.
- 58th minute: Kim Kum Il and Kim Yong Jun come on for North Korea. Pak Nam Chol and Mun In-Guk make way.
- 60th minute: Another good run by Portugal, and another great goal, this time by Tiago.
North Korea are just going through the motions here. I feel sorry for their fans sitting in the Cape Town rain.
- 63rd minute: Kim Yong Jun makes a clever run into the Portuguese area, but can’t shoot the ball in.
- 63rd minute: Meireles misses a great opportunity to score after a pass by Ronaldo into the Korean box.
- 65th minute: Kim Yong Jun has another go at goal, this time from distance, but can’t put any bend into the shot, and it goes out over the top.
- 67th minute: Dangerous play by Carvalho, who almost kicks Jong Tae-Se in the face.
- 68th minute: Ronaldo puts Fabio Coentrao in a great position for a goal, but the left back’s shot goes wide.
- 69th minute: North Korea aren’t completely out of this. Jong Tae tries to shoot, but the shot deflects off the side of his boot, and goes out.
- 69th minute: Yellow card to Almeida for giving the referee lip.
70th minute: Meireles comes off for Miguel Veloso.
- 70th minute: Ronaldo strikes the upper bar with a thunderous shot from distance.
- 72nd minute: Ronaldo tries another shot, and is denied yet again.
- 72nd minute: Jong Tae Se strikes from a ridiculously acute angle, but only finds the side netting.
- 73rd minute: Another substitution for Portugal. Simao comes off for Duda.
- 74th minute: Nam Song Chol comes on for Cha Jong Hyok.
- 77th minute: Last substitution for Portugal. A straight swap up front – Almeida comes off for the Brazilian-born Liedson.
- 79th minute: Jong Tae Se attempts a shot. The deflection falls just in front of Hong Yong Jo, but Eduardo reaches the ball first.
- 81st minute: A goal for Portugal’s substitute. A dreadful mistake by Ri Kwang Chon, who failed to clear a cross by Duda, falls to Liedson. It was elementary for the Portuguese striker from that distance.
- 84th minute: Free kick to North Korea. It isn’t a great effort at all.
- 87th minute: A vicious shot by Miguel Veloso from distance
- 88th minute: Christiano Ronaldo finally gets his goal. Myong-Guk Ri fails to get in the way of the oncoming Portuguese captain, who has to juggle about a bit to bring the ball under control for the goal.
- 90th minute: Tiago gets his second goal of the game with a brilliant header. The People’s Republic cannot wait for that final whistle. It has been a torrid afternoon for them.
- 92nd minute: Portugal have not had their fill of goals. Miguel Veloso almost puts the Portuguese eight goals up.
End of the match. A complete and utter destruction of the North Koreans.
Report by Branko Brkic. Notes by Sipho Hlongwane.
Main photo: Portugal’s Raul Meireles (C) jumps over North Korea’s goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk after scoring during a 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria