South Korea 2 Ghana 3
South Korea vs Ghana – the game that had it all
By Jim White
If you were coming up with the perfect ingredients for a dramatic World Cup game they would include terrific goals, a stirring comeback, momentum switching constantly, last-ditch defending, great goalkeeping, a forward swearing into the camera lens as he celebrated scoring and a superstar player on his knees in tears at the final whistle. Oh, and one of the coaches shown a red card after it was all over for roundly abusing the referee.
Well, this match had it all. What a confrontation it was. Frantic, flawed, fantastic, it pulsated with relentless action. It also gave vivid demonstration that organisation and planning are not everything in football. The game began with South Korea dominating everything - possession, corners, chances. They looked a superbly-drilled team. Every time Ghana attacked they fell back into defensive lines so straight they appeared to have been arranged by ruler. But twice in the first half Ghana subverted their tactical discipline by the simple tactic of chucking the ball into the mixer. The lowest-ranked team in the World Cup they might be, but this was proper passion-driven football. From two gorgeous Jordan Ayew crosses, first Mohammed Salisu then the Ajax prodigy Mohammed Kudus strolled through a static backline to get the ball in the net. Nothing subtle, nothing clever, but very effective. At half time, then, the score was Organisation 0 Streetwise Up And At Em 2.
For Korea it had seemed the harshest of rewards for their preparation. And they came out of the dressing room clearly deciding that the best thing to do was try to out Ghana Ghana. Within 15 minutes of the restart they were level. First Tariq Lamptey lost possession to the substitute Na Sang-ho, he crossed and Cho Gue-sung got in front of the Ghana defence to head smartly into the goal. Just a moment later, they did it again. Son Heung-min deftly played the left-back Kim Jin-su in; he dashed to the line and just before the ball went out of play, curled his foot round the ball and crossed. Cho outjumped the entire Ghana defence to thump home the equaliser with the kind of header Alan Shearer would have been proud to execute.
But if the momentum appeared to have completely switched, Ghana were not finished. Within moments of Korea drawing level, before anyone had time to draw breath, Gideon Mensah galloped down the left and crossed. Inaki Williams was his intended target, but he missed the ball completely. Fortunately for Ghana, without Korea doing anything to prevent it happening, the ball fell to Kudus who sent a left-foot shot beyond Kim Seung-gyu. Cue the entire Ghana subs bench running on the pitch in over excitement. And Kudus bellowing an expletive-filled celebration into a hovering camera lens.
Korea, though, refused to be stilled. They came back with gusto: they had shots, they had chances, Lawrence Alt-Zigi saved brilliantly from the substitute Lee Kang-in’s free-kick. Ghana’s defenders were required to fling themselves in front of chance after chance. Shots were cleared off the line. The entire 10 minutes of added time seemed to consist of Korea, barreling forward, seeking recompense. It didn’t come. Though the drama was not finished. Just as the Koreans were expecting yet another corner, referee Anthony Taylor blew for time. As Son fell to his knees in tears, Taylor was surrounded by angry Koreans; the coach Paolo Bento dashed on to the pitch to join the dispute and was promptly shown the red card.
“The result was totally unfair. They didn’t even deserve one point,” said Sergio Costa, Bento's assistant, who undertook his press duties for him and frankly seemed no less angry.
It may have been mayhem, it may have been anarchic, but ultimately nothing was settled by this game. Either side might yet make the last-16. Though if this is the entertainment they are capable of delivering, you feel they both deserve it.
Ghana: Ati-Zigi 8; Lamptey 7 (Odoi 75), Amartey 7, Salisu 7, Mensah 7 (Rahmen 87); Partey 8, Samed 7, Kudus 8 (Djiku 82); A Ayew 7 (Kyereh 75), J Ayew 8 (Sulemana 75), Williams.
Booked: Amartey, Lamptey.
South Korea: Kim Seung-gyu 6; Kim Moon-hwan 6, Kim Min-jae 7, Kim Young-gwon 7, Kim Jin-su 8; Jung Woo-young 6 (Hwang Ui-jo 75), Kwon Chang-hoon 7 (Lee Kang-in 56), Jeong Woo-yeong 6 (Na Sang-ho 45); Hwang In-beom 7, Son Heung-min 6, Cho Gue-sung 8.
Booked: Jung, Kim Young-won.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (England).
This Ghana coach takes no prisoners
Ghana assistant coach George Boateng on their approach
We've got good players who can work the ball wide but then you need to try and service the box. We've got people who can head a ball and score, like Inaki, it was a really good cross from Jordan Ayew. We tried to service the box as often as we can because we know we're dangerous.
Not long now until Brazil vs Switzerland
Can the World Cup favourites lay down another marker in the absence of Neymar? Switzerland are always stubborn opposition. Follow the build-up to that game on our live blog here.
Ghana celebrations in Accra
Ghana love a team huddle
They even do one before they go down the tunnel for half time, which is not something I've seen before. I doubt it was inspired by Phil Brown.
ICYMI: There's Kudus' winning goal
Who is your man of the match?
Assess both sets of players with our player ratings tool. For what it's worth, I though Williams was excellent for Ghana, a real outlet at centre-forward.
Jermaine Jenas' thoughts in the BBC studio
There was a lot of panic in the television studio at the end. That is credit to what South Korea did in the second half and the amount of pressure they put on the Ghana goal near the end was telling.
Kudus speaks after the game
I want to thank all my team-mates because it is a collective game, especially the crosses from Jordan and Inaki.
Ghana have been the tournament's great entertainers so far, coming out on the right and wrong side of two high-scoring games.
The fury towards Taylor at the end
FT: South Korea 2 Ghana 3
What an entertaining game. South Korea's manager has Paulo Bento has been sent off for surrounding Taylor at full time, he and his staff are furious that final corner was not allowed to be taken.
South Korea had 100 minutes to win the game though, and didn't take it. Ghana rewarded for a very strong period in the first half, when Salisu and Kudus scored.
Poor defending from crosses was a theme of the game with Cho scoring two headers, but Kudus popped up with another decisive moment to win it.
Ghana face 2010 foes Uruguay next, South Korea up against it with Portugal to come.
South Korea have won another corner from a deflected shot...but Anthony Taylor blows the whistle! It's all over.
Salisu won a big header from the corner, he has been impressive at the back for Ghana in their first two games.
The ball runs for Lee on the right-hand corner of the box, but he blazes over the bar when he should have clipped a cross in.
That might just be that.
Ghana just cannot gain any territory and the referee Anthony Taylor gives a free-kick against their striker Williams. Another chance for South Korea to lay siege on the Ghana goal. They need to get the ball into the box.
Yet again, they hit a diagonal cross to left-back Kim Jin-su, who has been immense in the air.
Djiku with an edgy clearance, sliced behind for another corner! South Korea's 12th
Another heart in mouth moment for Ghana! A ball headed back across goal with Cho throwing himself at in on the line, but it evades him and the referee blows for a foul. Another few minutes tick by.
Cracking delivery from Son, but once again a white Ghana shirt does brilliantly to hook clear. They are almost there, but the closing stages have not been pretty if you're a Ghana fan.
Baba Rahman with another strong defensive header from a Son cross.
Then Cho shoots towards the near post looking for his hat-trick, but Ati-Zigi beats it behind for another corner.
10 minutes of added time!
Can Ghana hang on? Their defence is being pulled from pillar to post at he moment.
Kim Min-jae comes for South Korea, the centre-half looks to be fighting through an injury.
Baba Rahman straight into the thick of it with a header behind for the corner, which Ghana clear. Amartey rises to meet the second ball, this is a barrage now.
Another ball is floated into the box, and finds Son in some space left of centre. He tries to shoot with his right foot, but a flying block comes in. Appeals for hand ball from Son, but it does not come to anything. No vehement complaints.
Baba replaces Mensah, who cannot carry on. The one thing that will give South Korea hope is the average amount of stoppage time in this tournament. Can Ghana cope with the crosses into the box?
Ghana looking to run the clock down, and Mensah is down with cramp. It was his cross from an overlap down the left that led to Kudus' second goal, which could well prove to be the winner.
Kudus has been taken off, Djiku replaces him. The Ajax winger looks like Ghana's next big star, of the present as well as the future. Expect to see him linked with moves in the January window.
South Korea on the attack again, and the ball runs through to Kim Jin-su on the left. He puts his laces through the shot but it was always rising over the cross bar.
South Korea now dominating territory, but they lose the ball cheaply from a throw-in when there was a chance to deliver into the box.
Inaki Williams led the counter attack with an outstanding run forward, but Kyereh's touch was all wrong when there was a chance to gather and shoot.
A couple of changes from Ghana: the more defensive Odoi replaces Lamptey at right-back. They do not look secure defending this lead, attack might be the best form of defence. Hwang U is on for South Korea, who Nottingham Forest bought and then loaned out in the summer.
Salisu clears off the line after Ghana sliced a clearance horribly in their own area. It fell for Lee who did not get enough power on the side-foot volley to get it past Salisu. Moments earlier, three Ghana players went sliding in to block as Son tried to shoot with his right foot in the area.
Son with some intelligent movement to find space inside, and Lamptey hacks him down at the expense of a yellow card before he can shoot from distance.
South Korea with a free-kick, almost 30 yards out and just right of centre.
Quite a long wait while Ghana line up the wall. Lee takes it with his left foot, whips it over the wall, and Ati-Zigi produces a smart save to push around the post.
Do South Korea have another fightback in them? Ghana still have four forwards on the pitch in both Ayew brothers, Williams and Kudus. Neither team taking a backward step.
GOOOOAAAALL! Kudus strikes again
We have been well and truly compensated for all of those 0-0s with today's action. Ghana back in front, as a low cross from the left wing evades everyone. Williams took a swing but kicked fresh air, but Mohammed Kudus kept his nerve to keep the shot down and direct it close enough to the bottom corner to score. Kudus at the double.
South Korea's defence holding a better line to catch Inaki Williams offside. Not for the first time at this World Cup, a team's substitutions have instigated a change in momentum. Lee and Na have made a real difference since coming on for South Korea. The game is see-sawing this way and that.
Ghana's turn to look rattled and dishevelled, with Partey passing the ball straight out of play. A few of their supporters are remonstrating in the stands, explaining to those around them what has gone wrong. Both teams need to go for the win.
GOOOAAALL! Cho with another header
This is an instantly replay of Serbia 3 Cameroon 3, another quickfire double.
Kim Jin-su stood up a floating cross from the left, and Cho had the run on Salisu to come crashing in at the back post and power the header into the roof of the net. South Korea level.
GOOOAALL! Cho pulls one back
Ghana are not looking so comfortable now...it's a wonderful cross whipped in from the left by Lee and Cho is unmarked in the area to nod beyond Ati-Zigi. Game on.
South Korea not convincing when defending a set-piece again, with Hwang flicking the ball on to the roof of his own net at the near post. Almost an own goal. Ghana looking comfortable enough at the moment.
Ati-Zigi forced into his first save of the game after Cho cranes his neck and directs a header at goal. That was South Korea's first shot on target in the game, but was a comfortable height for the goalkeeper who made the most of it for the cameras.
Lamptey involved again, shooting over the bar from the edge of the area. Will South Korea change Son's position to get him closer to goal in this second half?
South Korea trying to take the initiative in the early minutes of the second half. They are finding space down the sides again, but Lamptey does just enough at the back post to deal with a cross from the right.
We are back under way
Ghana just need to avoid the kind of capitulation that befell Serbia and Cameroon in the game's first match.
Who was Ghana's star performer?
Have your say with our player ratings tool.
South Korea's defensive line coming under fire at half time
Laura Georges, Didier Drogba and Jermaine Jenas highlighting that they dropped too deep on both the free-kick and cross for the second goal.
An unlikely opening goalscorer
Jim White's view from the stadium
South Korea gave a vivid demonstration in that half that organisation is not everything in football. They are a superbly drilled team. You could see that every time Ghana attacked and they fell back into defensive lines so straight they appeared to have been arranged by ruler. But twice Ghana subverted their tactical discipline by the simple method of chucking a ball in the mixer, and making sure one of their heads got to it first.
Korea had been dominating everything - possession, corners, chances - when Ghana took the simple route to establish a lead. Jordan Ayew swung in a freekick, there was a total mess in the Korea defence and in the confusion Mohammed Salisu stabbed home. There was a long VAR pause, checking whether Andre Ayew had handled in the melee. But Anthony Taylor eventually signalled a goal. After the robbery in 2010, when they were denied a place in the semi final through Luis Suarez’s cheating intervention, they must have felt it was about time they got the better of a handball decision.
And Ghana subverted Korean precision a second time by simply going straight through it. Jordan Ayew again floated in a cross and Mohammed Kudus strolled through a static backline to head the ball past Kim Seung-gyu. At half time, then, the score is Organisation 0 Streetwise Up And At Em 2.
HT: South Korea 0 Ghana 2
I think that goes down as a surprise. South Korea started the better in the first 20 minutes, but Ghana took over and showed far more quality in the attacking third, through Kudus and both Ayew brothers. South Korea's players look stunned.
Ghana finishing the half on the front foot, Williams' running and movement earning them another corner. It's another devilish delivery from Jordan Ayew, and Partey was close to glancing in at the near post. It hit the midfielder's shoulder rather than his head.
Jordan Ayew delivers a Ghana corner but this time South Korea clear at the near post.
Mensah with a decisive challenge as another South Korea attack fizzles out.
There will be FIVE minutes of added time
Almost the perfect 45 (or 50 minutes) from Ghana.
Kim Young-gwon with a very ambitious attempt from the left, trying to curl one into the far top corner, but it was always going wide. Son is not happy that he did not pass to him instead.
Superb defending from Ghana, a mix of Kudus, Lamptey and Salisu all surround Son who looked to be breaking into open space down the left. A frustrating afternoon for South Korea's star player so far.
Son starting to roam from his left-sided perch, either due to instruction or sheer frustration. Ghana defending their box well, although South Korea's crossing and set-pieces need to improve if there is to be a route back into this.
That was more promising from South Korea. Son was eventually flagged offside, but found himself in a central position behind the Ghana defence for the first time in the game. Credit to Ghana who converged on him and closed off the route to goal.
South Korea are all over the place, here. Kudus showing great skill and awareness to wriggle out of pressure in the centre of the pitch. Ghana just have to keep feeding him the ball.
GOOAAALLL! Ghana double their lead
Kudus is the man again. What a talent he looks, but he has Jordan Ayew to thank for a wicked inswinging cross that just needed the slightest touch to find the corner of the net. What a momentum swing after South Korea's early pressure.
Ghana striker Williams is really growing into this now, showing some lovely touches and holding the ball up well. His team are enjoying a strong spell.
Ghana look to have more of a grip on this game now, keeping the ball well. South Korea struggling to pressure them high up because the runs of Inaki Williams are stretching their backline.
Ghana with another set-piece sent into the box with quality, and South Korea look uncomfortable when asked to defend. They just about clear their lines on this occasion. The game is well set up now.
Who has impressed so far?
Rate both sets of players using our live player ratings tool.
GOAL STANDS! Var check for Andre Ayew handball
The ball caught him on the hand on the fly when the cross came in, but the goal stands. That will be contentious.
GOOOAAALLL! Salisu with a goal out of nothing
Yet again in this World Cup, a set-piece provides the breakthrough. It wasn't a free kick in a particularly dangerous position, but Ghana got numbers around Jordan Ayew's delivery and kept it alive. The ball was bounced around at the edge of a six-yard box and there was Salisu to poke home.
Daniel Amartey booked for a flailing arm. Then Jordan Ayew with a chance to break down the left after winning possession back, but the counter-attack slows. Lamptey probing down the right, but not for the first time in the game the cross is poor.
Son attempts a bicycle kick but gets it all wrong and kicks fresh air. Kim Min-jae striding out well with the ball from the back, he is having a stormer of a season with Napoli. One of the signings of the summer. He finds Son in a pocket of space who spreads it left, but once again the final cross lacks accuracy.
South Korea switching the point of attack from flank to flank again, this time to Kwon who is free on the right. His cross deflects behind for their SIXTH corner of the game, which tells you plenty about the balance of the contest. Son whips it to the near post, half-hearted appeals for handball against Salisu but it struck his shoulder.
Ghana keeping the ball better in the last few minutes, but the pass towards Ayew in the box is wayward. Ghana looking a little narrow in attack at the moment. South Korea's defenders looking comfortable enough.
South Korea are by far the more enterprising team so far. A bit of a north London battle to the left of the penalty area, Partey getting a foot in against Son at the expense of a corner. Salisu heads the delivery away at the near post. Son drops a shoulder, and wins another corner as Lamptey blocks his cross.
South Korea really getting on top now, smothering Ghana and not letting them out. Kim Min-jae earns them a corner after an overlapping run forward from centre-back. Some of Ghana's attempted clearances have been scruffy. Jung Woo-Young tries a diagonal pass to the right wing but the switch was overhit.
Ghana looking a little open to the counter, this time Son is released in the left channel but Lamptey gets back at him and concedes a foul. Showed good recovery speed but Lamptey's attacking instincts could be exposed in a flat back four. Most of his football at Brighton has come as a wing-back. South Korea try to work a short one and win a corner.
As Jim White says:
Anthony Taylor gives a freekick for a foul on Son by Lamptey: it's like the Premier League never stopped..
South Korea with their first attack of any menace, set up a lovely reverse pass into the box for Cho's arcing run, but Amartey produced an excellent challenge when the ball was flashed across goal.
Ghana win a free-kick just inside the South Korea half and have the chance to gain some territory. Thomas Partey plays in a more advanced midfield role for them than he does for Arsenal, almost as a right-sided No 8. He came in for some criticism for his showing against Portugal. Ghana seeing most of the ball so far.
South Korea get the game started.
The two teams are out
Time for the national anthems. Son issues a rallying cry to his South Korea team-mates down the line.
An observation from Jim White at the stadium:
Fashion note: Ghana's shorts are absolutely enormous.
Son warming up in his mask
Jim White not enjoying the pre-match entertainment
Ghana have the major advantage in terms of Premier League experience. Five of their starting eleven are regulars in the English top division. Korea just have the one.
But if you are going to have single representation, it's not a bad idea to make that one Son Heung-min. He will be doing his best Phantom of the Opera impression in a face mask here. But he remains Korea's best - some might say only - chance of overcoming a side of Ghana's experience.
As for the pre-match crowd noise, the score stands at Korea 0 Ghana 0 Annoying DJ Blasting Out Tunes So Loud Nobody Can Hear Themselves Think 5.
Son to face off against former coach
An interesting sub-plot to today's clash – Ghana coach Otto Addo used to manage South Korean star Son Heung-min at youth level for Hamburg.
Addo says he recognised the attacker's star qualities early on and recommended him for the club's first team.
"He's very, very disciplined. So he became so good because he worked hard for it. This is what I hoped for, and I expected it," Addo said. "I always wish him all the best, except [against Ghana]."
Both sets of fans have gone all out today
Pick your winner
Who do you think will win this one? Use our match predictor to select the score – and see what other fans think too.
Team news klaxon
Here's how the two sides line up for today's 1pm kick-off:
Ghana: Lawrence Ati-Zigi, Tariq Lamptey, Daniel Amartey, Mohammed Salisu, Gideon Mensah, Thomas Partey, Salis Abdul Samed, Mohammed Kudus, Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Inaki Williams.
South Korea: Kim Seung-gyu, Kim Moon-hwan, Kim Min-jae, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Jin-su, Jung Woo-young, Kwon Chang-hoon, Jeong Woo-yeong, Hwang In-beom, Son Heung-min, Cho Gue-sung.
The early game is an absolute thriller
It's currently 3-3 between Cameroon and Serbia as stoppage time approaches – and you can follow the closing stages of that one live here.
Will Ghana serve up more entertainment?
By Daniel Zeqiri
Where there is Son Heung-min, there is hope for South Korea who will need their star forward to click into gear if they are to beat an unpredictable Ghana team.
South Korea were solid in a goalless draw against Uruguay, and missed the game's best chance when Hwang fired over the bar from close range. Tottenham forward Son played the game in a protective face mask following surgery for facial injuries.
In an intriguing sub-plot for today's game, he reunites with Ghana head coach Otto Addo who worked with Son in his first coaching role at Hamburg and predicted a golden future for the Tottenham forward, who started out in Europe at the German club.
Addo said: "I had the pleasure of having him as a coach when I was under-19s coach at Hamburg.
"He's a very good character first of all, a hard-working player. I really like his character. He's very disciplined and became so good because he worked so hard for it."
Ghana also looked to be drifting towards a goalless draw against Portugal before the game sparked into life. Mohammed Salisu was extremely unlucky to concede a penalty to Cristiano Ronaldo when he looked to have got his foot to the ball first, but Ghana did wilt defensively to concede two more late goals having grabbed an equaliser.
"I think it was really the wrong decision," Addo said. "I don't know why VAR didn't come up. There's no explanation for me. And then it's difficult against a world-class team when they are leading."
Ghana did rally to pull another back and make it 3-2 and missed a great chance to level in the dying seconds after Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa rolled the ball straight to Inaki Williams, but the forward slipped. Fans were denied one of the all-time great World Cup finishes.
Full team news on the way shortly.