Raul Meireles 29, Simao 53, Almeida 56, Tiago 60, 89, Liedson 80, Cristiano Ronaldo 87
KOREA DPR 0
Portugal routed Korea DPR in Cape Town thanks to a superb second half display. Raul Meireles gave the Portuguese a half time lead before quickfire goals from Simao, Hugo Almeida and Tiago wrapped up the game before an hour had been played. Liedson added a fifth 10 minutes from time before late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiago made the scoreline emphatic.
Ricardo Carvalho headed against the post seven minutes in after Ri Myong-Guk came to claim a corner and got nowhere near. Carvalho had already blazed off target three minutes earlier. Korea DPR looked willing to shoot from distance, with Cha Jong-Hyok firing just wide with a first-time shot from 30 yards. Hong Yong-Jo shot from the edge of the area, and his effort was parried by Eduardo to Pak Nam-Chol who headed the rebound over. Ahn Yong-Hak shot low and wide of the far post after 21 minutes before Meireles shot just wide of the near post at the other end moments later. It was Meireles who opened the scoring after 29 minutes thanks to Tiago’s beautiful pass. Tiago split the Korean defence and Meireles timed his run perfectly to fire past Ri Myong-Guk.
Portugal’s second goal after 53 minutes was every bit as good as their first. Meireles played a one-two with Almeida on the edge of the box before feeding Simao who fired through the legs of Ri Myong-Guk. Portugal struck again just three minutes later through Almeida. Fabio Coentrao put in an inch-perfect cross from the left for Almeida to head home unmarked from six yards. It was 4-0 on the hour mark when Tiago slotted home Ronaldo’s cut back from the edge of the area. Ronaldo hammered a 25 yard effort against the bar after 70 minutes before Liedson scored with 10 minutes left. Ri Kwang-Chon miskicked Duda’s cross and Liedson lashed home the loose ball from close range. Ronaldo rounded Ri Myong-Guk and tapped into the empty net with three minutes left before Tiago headed home Miguel Veloso’s cross two minutes later.
In a first half ruled by the teeming rain, Korea DPR proved a match for their more esteemed opponents, playing a more expansive game than they had offered against Brazil. Whether they fancied their chances more against the Portuguese than the Brazilians, or whether they were boosted in confidence by running Brazil close, there was definitely a change in emphasis by the North Koreans and they came close on several occasions with shots from around the edge of the area. The defence still looked well organised, and had the same last-ditch mentality that had embodied their opening game performance. It was only for the sole Portuguese goal before the break that it was breached, and it took a fine pass from Tiago to do so.
The second half was a different matter entirely. Korea DPR paid the price for playing the more open game, unable to sustain their defensive discipline while searching for an equalising goal. Whilst it took some beautiful football to open them up for the first two goals, there was far too much space left for Portugal to exploit as they rattled off two more goals in quick succession. Coentrao’s run for the third goal started on the half way line, receiving the ball on the left having already covered 40 yards, but he was rewarded by the Korean defence with an easy target to pick out with Almeida left totally unmarked. It was a similar story for the fourth goal, with Tiago untracked in making his run to the edge of the area for Ronaldo to pull the ball back to. The finish was close to Ri Myong-Guk and it is arguable that had he not just seen two goals go past him within minutes, he may have made a better effort to keep the ball out.
Portugal looked like they would score with every attack but they failed to add any more goals for 20 minutes. Meireles may have done better when firing wide at the far post after Ronaldo crossed low along the face of goal, and Coentrao was just off target after playing a one-two with Ronaldo. The fifth goal was a result of a poor attempt at a clearance by Ri Kwang-Chon, the wet weather no doubt to blame after several similar miskicks in their own penalty area by Korea DPR earlier in the game. By then, Korean hearts had long been broken, with Ronaldo allowed to bring the ball down off his back having momentarily lost control despite the presence of defenders around him when he scored. The marking was again lacking for Tiago’s second goal, heading freely 15 yards out from Veloso’s cross.
After such a spirited showing for the first 135 minutes of their World Cup, it was a shame to see Korea DPR capitulate in the manner that many predicted before the tournament. With Ivory Coast needing to rival Portugal’s scoreline to have any chance of progressing to the next round on Friday, they will need to recover their composure and belief quickly to avoid going home with a second drubbing against their names. Portugal have taken a huge step towards qualification with this seven goal display, knowing that even if they lose to Brazil, the Ivorians must make up nine goals on goal difference across the two results to have a chance to go through.
Portugal – Eduardo – Alves, Miguel, Carvalho, Coentrao – Cristiano Ronaldo, Pedro Mendes, Raul Meireles (Veloso 70), Tiago, Simao (Duda 74) – Almeida (Liedson 77)
North Korea – Ri Myong-guk – Cha Jong-hyok (Nam Song-chol 75), Pak Nam-chol (Kim Kum-il 58), Ri Kwang-chon, Ji Yun-nam, Hong Yong-jo – Mun In-guk (Kim Yong-jun 58), Pak Chol-jin, Ri Jun-il, An Yong-hak – Jong Tae-se