S.Korea beat Italy with Golden Goal
TAEJON, South Korea (Reuters) -- Ahn Jung-hwan headed a golden goal winner to put co-hosts South Korea into the quarter-finals of the World Cup at the expense of 10-man Italy on Tuesday after one of the most dramatic matches of the tournament.
With a penalty shootout looming, Ahn, who had missed a penalty after five minutes of normal time, leapt high to glance in the 116th minute winner after Italy had looked likely winners for much of the match.
Two minutes from normal time, the raucous crowd of 39,000 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.
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 three-times champions 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.
Italy failed to quieten the partisan crowd but they seemed to have drawn the sting of Korea until Seol pounced in the area as Panucci fluffed a clearance with a quarter-final meeting with Spain beckoning for his country.
A minute later, 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 1-0 to Turkey 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.
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 almost 40,000 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 abscence 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 recieving 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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