|Korean player Son Heung-min reacts as the national team was defeated by Algeria 4-2 in the World Cup on Sunday. (AFP-Yonhap)|
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil -- South Korea suffered a 4-2 defeat to Algeria on Sunday in its second group-stage match of the World Cup.
Korean midfielder Son Heung-min and captain Koo Ja-cheol softened the blow with second-half goals, but the team’s persistent defensive weaknesses left them open to the ruthless Algerian attack.
Islam Slimani took advantage of an inattentive Korean back line in the 26th minute, followed by Rafik Halliche scoring off a corner kick two minutes later. Abdelmoumene Djabou fired home in the 38th minute to ensure the Algerians’ dominance.
After halftime, Korea sprang to life. Son took on a sea of defenders to score in the 50th minute. After a long ball hit him on the back, he faked a shot to buy himself time and distance to send a composed left-footed finish through goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi’s legs.
But Korea’s defensive maladies persisted, and the back line stood idly as Algerian midfielder Sofiane Feghouli snapped the ball left to Yacine Brahimi, who slotted it squarely behind goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong at 62 minutes.
With the score at 4-1, Korea did not give up. Second-half substitute Kim Shin-wook -- who came on for Park Chu-young -- headed the ball down to Son in the penalty area in the 72nd minute. Son’s shot was blocked by a defender, but only in the direction of Lee Keun-ho, who sent the ball back across the face of the goal for captain Koo Ja-cheol to finish from close range.
Koo took no time to celebrate and sprinted straight back to the center to restart play.
In the last 10 minutes, the Koreans began firing desperate long balls to “Our Giant” Kim, towering at 1.96 meters tall in the front, but he had little support.
In Korea’s last quality attempt, Son blasted a free kick into the Algerian wall.
The defeated South Korean squad made its rounds at the end of the match to express gratitude to the thousands of red-shirted supporters in the stands before walking off the pitch.
|Korean fans react following its national team's defeat by Algeria 4-2 in the World Cup on Sunday. (Yonhap)|
Earlier in the day, fellow Group H contenders Belgium and Russia played a stalemate until the 88th minute, when Belgium’s Divock Origi scored the lone goal.
With Sunday’s matches, Belgium sits atop the group with six points, followed by Algeria with three and Russia and Korea tied with one. The best two teams of Group H will take on the top two of Group G, consisting of Germany, the U.S., Ghana and Portugal.
South Korea plays Belgium in Sao Paulo on June 26 while Algeria heads to Curitiba to take on Russia for the final set of group matches.
By Elaine Ramirez, Korea Herald correspondent