Frankfurt, June 14 :
Asian giants South Korea beat debutants Togo 2-1 in an exciting encounter at the FIFA World Cup Stadium in Frankfurt on Tuesday.
Second-half strikes from substitute Ahn Jung Hwan and Lee Chun-Soo took the game away from Togo, who led at half time through Mohamed Kader.
Thousands of Taeguk Warriors fans in red packed the stadium beating drums and horns vastly out numbering the Togo fans in yellow. It was also a special moment for referee Graham Poll, who celebrated his wedding anniversary by blowing the whistle at the exact moment he got married 14 years ago.
Togo coach Otto Pfister, who was the main focus of interest before the match, made a dramatic return to the side after reaching a last minute agreement with Togolese Football Federation.
In the 11th minute Mohamed Kader slammed a right-footed volley, which just went over the Korean goal. Togo fell deep in their territory in their first world cup match and gave lot of possession to the Koreans. Nine minutes later Park Ji-Sung was fouled by Alaixys Romao in a promising position for South Korea but Togo keeper Kossi Agassa passed his first real test of the game, grabbing Lee Eul-Yongâ€™s free-kick at the second attempt.
In the 23rd minute, referee Poll produced his yellow card twice in as many minutes, showing it to Togoâ€™s Jean-Paul Abalo for a callous body-check on Ji-Sung Park, and then to Alaixys Roao for dissent.
Eight minutes later, Togo made the first strike when Mohamed Kader latched on to a through ball, took it in his stride and fired a shot across Lee Woon-Jae and in off the far post.
Five minutes before half time South Koreaâ€™s hunt for an equaliser intensified with Lee Eul-Yong working himself a yard of space and firing in a curling shot which Kossi Agassa clutched to his midriff.
At the breather South Koreaâ€™s Dutch coach Dick Advocaat stung into action and replaced defender Jin-Kyu Kim with striker Ahn Jung-Hwan.
In the 53rd minute, Park Ji-Sungâ€™s took a sharp turn clear of Jean-Paul Abalo,
who pulled the the South Korean player down, and having been booked in the first-half, left Poll with no option but to show him a second yellow and send him off.
Moments later Togo were doubly punished when Lee Chun-Soo curled an exquisite free kick over the Togo wall and into the net.
Ahn Jung-Hwan, with his lightening pace and directness, stretched the ten men Togo. In the 71st minute Hwan turned and fired a deflected shot to the top right corner of the net giving the lead to the Koreans to the delight the Korean journalists in the press box and of course the Korean supporters in the stadium.
Plucky Togo chased the game with ten men and in the 78th minute Emmanuel Adebayor slotted a pass through for Mohammed Kader on the penalty spot but his touch let him down.
There were jeers and whistles from the crowd as South Korea decided to run the
clock down with some possession football with the game in their pocket in the closing moments.
Painuly is an Editorial Consultant with The Himalayan Times and is writing exclusively for THT from Germany.