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South Korea Rallies to Tie Belgium

By Raf Casert
Associated Press
Thursday, June 25, 1998; 12:17 p.m. EDT

PARIS — Yoo Sang-chul stretched to knock in a free kick from Ha Seok-ju in the 71st minute, rallying South Korea to a 1-1 draw with Belgium that turned out to be meaningless for both teams.

The result had no impact on either side's chances for advancement because of Mexico's 2-2 draw with the Netherlands in Saint-Etienne. Belgium needed a victory over South Korea, which already had been eliminated, and for the Dutch to beat Mexico to advance into the second round. The Dutch only needed a draw to advance from Group E.

Belgium looked to be in good shape early, taking a lead shortly after kickoff, while the Dutch led Mexico 2-0 in the second half.

A header from Gordan Vidovic was pushed off the line in the seventh minute by a South Korean defender, but Luc Nilis surged into the area to volley in the much-needed opener past diving goalkeeper Kim Byung-ji.

But Belgium's hopes were deflated with 19 minutes remaining, when Ha lofted a free kick for from the left and Yoo stretched to touch the ball with his right foot, beating several diving Belgian defenders on the far side of the goal box.

Although already eliminated from the tournament, the South Koreans appeared determined to win their first match in five World Cup appearances — their last opportunity before co-hosting the next World Cup with Japan in 2002.

South Korean coach Kim Pyung-Soek — promoted after Cha Bum-kin was fired after the team's dismal 5-0 loss to the Netherlands — made few changes to Cha's starting lineup against the Dutch.

They demonstrated tight defending and an ability to shoot from distance, but also bouts of tactical naivete that the experienced Belgians — fielding a team whose average age was more than over 30 were quick to take advantage of.

In the 22nd minute, forward Seo Jung-won ran down a long pass, but although completely unmarked, fumbled the shot from some 12 meters, the ball bouncing off his shin and shooting past the post.

In the 51st minute, Nilis hit the crossbar from six meters after chesting a cross in the box and swivelling around defenders Ha and Lee Sang-hun.

After the equalizer, the two teams had at least half-a-dozen opportunities to take the lead, but the score remained unchanged.

Brazilian referee Rezende de Freitas handed out yellow cards to Vital Borkelmans, Lee Lim-saeng, Lee Min-sung, and keeper Kim Byung-ji.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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