SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea waited 16 years to get their World Cup revenge on Germany, and while Wednesday’s astonishing 2-0 win over the defending champions came in the group stage rather than the semi-finals it tasted no less sweet.
The Germans had denied Guus Hiddink’s South Korea a place in the 2002 final with a 1-0 win in Seoul after the co-hosts had ridden a wave of national footballing fervor to defeat Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain on the way to the last four.
Few gave the Koreans any chance of reversing that defeat on Wednesday, with some bookmakers offering odds of 100-1 on a 2-0 win, but as coach Shin Tae-yong said ahead of the match: “The ball is round, anything can happen ...”
Two stoppage-time goals from Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min in Kazan proved just that.
South Korean media on Thursday hailed the win over the world’s top-ranked side as the “Miracle of Kazan”.
The Kookmin Ilbo said the Koreans had gone, “From Prey to Predator”.
“Throughout the 88-year history of the World Cup, Germany had always been a hero,” the daily said. “But this German team knelt down before Korea at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.”
The Herald Business’ sports page said, “The German Goliath went from composure to tears in 99 minutes,” while Yonhap News said “after defeats at the 1994 and 2002 World Cups, South Korea finally stopped the German tank.”
The Korea Football Association said, “The fighting spirit of the national team that never gives up had moved the whole nation.”
Former South Korea forward Ahn Jung-hwan, who scored the goal that knocked Italy out of the last 16 in 2002, said the result showed the unpredictability of the game.
“This is football,” said Ahn, who is working for Korean television at the World Cup. “The sport that can have so much unexpected change is football.”
South Korea had needed to win by at least two goals to stand a chance of qualifying from Group F as runners-up but Sweden’s surprise 3-0 win over Mexico meant both they and Germany were going home.
Additional reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty