South Korea were lucky to escape with a 0 - 0 draw from their entertaining Group H opener against Diego Alonso’s Uruguay.
The game started with an excellent tempo, with both sides moving the ball fluidly, but without any real chances for the first twenty minutes.
Uruguay stepped up the tempo midway through the first half. Federico Valverde blazed a brilliant half-volley just over the crossbar, before Darwin Nunez came just inches away from tapping in a ball across the face of goal.
South Korea responded in kind with what was the biggest opportunity of the match. Kim Moonhwan picked out Hwang Uijo unmarked from eight yards out but the Olympiacos forward blazed a glorious chance over the bar.
Five minutes later Uruguay almost scored at the other end, as Diogo Godin headed a corner onto the post. This was the closest either side came in an eventful first-half.
The second half wasn’t quite as exciting but still provided a couple of chances. Son looked as though he could’ve had his first chance of the tournament, but a fantastic tackle from Jose Maria Gimenez stopped him in his tracks.
It wasn’t until the 82nd minute that either side made another chance, when Darwin Nunez turned and fizzed a shot towards goal. The shot from the Liverpool striker was always going wide but substitute Edinson Cavani was very close to getting his head to the shot and potentially turning it home.
After a fairly lowkey second half, both sides threw bodies forward to try and snatch the win.
Federico Valverde lined up a brilliant shot from 25 yards and smacked the crossbar with a magnificent attempt.
Son Heung-Min then tried to do the same thing at the other end but his shot was well off target. In the end neither side had the quality to hit the target, quite literally in fact. This was the first World Cup match in the 21st century not to feature a shot on target.
Don’t let that paint the picture of a poor game however. Both sides were, at points, really going for it, showing plenty of promise for their games to come.
Whilst some of the 0 - 0 draws so far in the tournament have been dull, low-key affairs, this one certainly wasn’t. Even aside from the chances and audacious attempts, the tempo of the game was very impressive, especially given the Qatar heat.
Neither side was able to outrun the other, with both teams in with a real chance of winning the game from the first minute to the last. In the Switzerland game earlier, several players on both sides simply ran out of energy, but this was far from the case in the Group H opener.
Uruguay were the better team for large parts of the game but couldn’t manufacture a good enough chance to snatch the three points. La Celeste were left frustrated by South Korea.
South Korea face a huge game against Ghana on Monday, whilst Uruguay have what promises to be a mouthwatering encounter with Portugal.
Plenty to play for in Group H!