South Korea ends World Cup with mixed feelings
KAZAN, Russia (AP) — The tears flowed on both sides of the field after South Korea beat Germany at the World Cup.
Even in victory, the South Koreas struggled to compose themselves following a 2-0 win that knocked the defending champion Germans out of the tournament. That's because South Korea entered the match with a slim chance to advance but couldn't get it done.
"Since we won, everything went as planned," South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong said. "We looked at their strategies for the past four days. We looked at Germany's formation. I told (my players) we would have opportunities, that they would need the victory more than us."
South Korea had lost its opening two matches, but could have advanced with a victory at the Kazan Arena if Mexico had beaten Sweden in the other Group F match.
But nobody told the South Korean players that Mexico was getting routed 3-0, and they thought they were in contention right to the end.
"It was only after the game that we knew the score," South Korea goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo said. "We were really disappointed, that's why a lot of us cried."
South Korea, however, finished its campaign in Russian on a high, scoring two goals in injury time.
The South Koreans played aggressively in the first half and waited patiently for opportunities toward the end when the four-time champions pressed hard to score and get a victory that would have sent them through ahead of Mexico on goal difference.
While the Germans were clumsy in front of goal, Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min scored late while their teammates defended superbly with last-minute tackles and hard collective work.
Jo was also decisive, pulling off a superb one-handed save to deny Leon Goretzka's header aimed at the far corner. He also stopped substitute Mario Gomez's second-half header.
"We're not going to the last 16, but we did manage to beat the champions, and the World No. 1 team," Shin said. "I hope we can manage to improve and do better in the future."