On a night where Australia lacked experience in the back 4, drive and creativity in the final third and the ability to keep possession in midfield, the 2002-esque South Korea dominated Australia in a display of brilliance. On a pitch which was in terrible condition, South Korea showed their quality early by controlling the tempo and possession.
After an early mistake from the Australians, which involved a stray cross-field pass from Gold Coast marquee man Culina before North Queensland defender Stefanutto panicked as he tried to save a throw in, South Korea scored. Sliding in, Stefanutto only managed to pass the ball back to Park Chu-young and a lovely bit of play finished off by Chu Young Park put the home team up early.
It got worse for Australia, as their struggling midfield and shaky back 4 struggled to hold possession and were faced with a mammoth challenge after Lee Jung-soo extended the lead to 2 after 20 minutes. Ki Sung-yong played in a lovely free kick for the Korean, who scored with a classy back-heel following a quality first touch.
But as the fighting Socceroos started to get into the groove, Leeds defender Patrick Kisnorbo scored with a header from close range. Bresciano played in the free kick which lead to the goal. Apart from that moment of class, the midfielder from Palmero struggled to make an impact on the game. Either the presence of tall Nagoya Grampus striker Josh Kennedy or the unreliable pitch convinced him chipping the ball into the box would prove most effective but he always came up short. Celtic forward Scott McDonald was starved of decent possession within the box and as a result Australia’s attack was hindered.
As the match stretched on, Australia began to get better and better, but Jason Culin and Vince Grella struggled to make their presence known and a spark of brilliance was needed. On came Carle, who lifted the tempo but failed to deliver the final product and Australia limbered on.
With 4 minutes remaining, Mark Schwarzer was beaten by his Fulham teammate Seol. A lovely run and cross from Manchester Uniteds Park Ji-Sung opened up the chance for Seol. A fair effort from Schwarzer had convinced a few he had pulled of a top save but the linesmen wasn’t fooled and awarded the goal.
But Australia’s defence just simply did not look comfortable – North and Kisnorbo lacking quality and Stefanutto looking unreliable – so when center back Mark Milligan went down with a serious looking injury, the hearts of Socceroos fans sunk. Milligan looked strong at the back and could be vital against the Netherlands on October 10th.
This match was only Pim Veerbeeks fourth loss in charge of Australia as the Socceroos went down 3-1.
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