The first big wave came only five minutes into the match-China PR gained a
free kick, but as a result of the players' intense clash for a better
position in front of the goal, Gao Lin was sent off the pitch and China PR
suddenly found themselves having to defend against the attacking eleven of
Korea Rep. with a squad of ten.
Using this advantage, Korea Rep. made several attempts to score from outside
the penalty area, once in the 14th minute with a fierce free kick by Kim Jin
Kyu of Jubilo Iwata (Japan), in the 19th minute by Kim Jung Woo, and also in
the 22nd minute by Lee Dong Gook. All these attempts never reached the back
of the net, though, as China PR's DF Li Weifeng, formerly with England's
Everton, and his teammates displayed an impregnable defense. In the 37th
minute, Korea Rep. advanced with a series of fast passes and Kim Jin Ryong
broke free to shoot the ball inside the penalty area, but GK Li Ieilei made
a fantastic save and the first half ended in a scoreless draw.
In the 52nd minute, China PR broke the silence. Gaining a free kick inside
Korea's area, Xie Hui headed the ball in front of the goal and Sun Xiang
rushed forward to deliver a piercing goal with his left foot.
As defending champion and host of the championship, Korea Rep. could not
lose this opening match. In the 73rd minute, Kim Jin Kyu's second shot of
the match from a free kick went straight into the net, and the equalizer
saved the match for Korea Rep.
China lost another man as Cao Yang was sent off in the 82nd minute when he
obstructed a goal opportunity inside the penalty area. It seemed like a
perfect chance for Korea Rep. to gain an upper hand, but Lee Dong Gook's
shot went right into the hands of China PR's goalie. Shortly afterwards,
China PR's Li Weifen received his second yellow and left the pitch, leaving
China PR with only 8 men, who used all their physical strength and ability
to defend their goal.
After the match, Korea Rep. head coach Jo Bonfrere grimly commented, "We
could have won 2-1." In contrast, China PR head coach Zhu Guang Hu seemed
satisfied with his team's efforts: "I would like to congratulate the
players who gave all they had till the very last second. This result has
given our entire team great confidence as we prepare to face our next