Wednesday, June 18, 2014

18 June 2002 - Ahn Top Of The World

On 18 June 2002, World Cup co-hosts South Korea upset Italy 2-1 in a Round of 16 match before a crowd of 38,588 at South Korea's Daejeon World Cup Stadium.

With three minutes of regulation time remaining, Italy looked certain to advance, holding a 1-0 lead earned with an 18th minute goal from veteran striker Christian Vieri. In the 88th minute, however, Italian defender Christian Panucci mishandled a pass, opening the door for Korean winger Seol Ki-Hyeon, who scored the equalizer.

The late goal shocked the Azzurri and sent the match to extra time. The situation worsened for Italy in the first period of added time, as midfielder Francesco Totti received a second yellow card for an apparent dive and was sent off in the 105th minute.

As the match entered the final minutes of extra time and appeared to be headed for penalties, Korean midfielder Ahn Jung-Hwan scored a header in the 117th minute to give the Korean side the victory. The goal was redemptive for Ahn, whose penalty kick in the 5th minute was saved by Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Ahn was also the only member of the Korean side to play his club football in Italy, at the time on loan with AC Perugia. The day after the match, Perugia canceled Ahn's contract, with Perugia owner Luciano Gaucci reportedly saying "I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian football." The club quickly apologized and offered to purchase Ahn's contract, but he declined and moved to Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse.

South Korea followed their epic win with an equally-historic victory over Spain on penalties. They then lost to Germany, but finished the tournament in fourth place.

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