2010 FIFA World Cup: South Korea Loses 4-1 to Argentina

Jim CheneyCorrespondent IJune 17, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 17:  Lee Chung-Yong of South Korea walks past Argentina players celebrating an own goal by Park Chu-Young during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group B match between Argentina and South Korea at Soccer City Stadium on June 17, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Despite hanging with the World's seventh ranked team for 75-minutes, South Korea allowed two late goals to Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain, and had to settle for a 4-1 loss.

It really was an unfortunate result because it will likely disguise the fact the South Korea played most of the game without intimidation and deserved a much closer score line.

The first trouble came in the 16th minute of the match when Korean Forward, Park Chu-Young scored an own goal on a ball that he clearly didn't see coming. 

For a lesser team, allowing an own goal to a hugely favored team would have been a death sentence. Instead, South Korea bounced back quickly.

Unfortunately, things weren't in the cards for South Korea as Higuain scored the first of his three goals in the 33rd minute.

The South Korean side continued to play hard, even scoring a goal in the 45th minute on a miscue by the Argentinian defense.

Coming out in the second half, South Korea continued their stellar play, playing good defense, but unfortunately missing several opportunities to tie the game.

The game was firmly put out of reach in the 76th minute after a rebound off the post caught South Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong off guard, and allowed Higuain to put in his second goal of the night, despite being clearly offsides.

The third goal really seemed to take it out of the South Korean team, and their play from that point on was pretty listless.

It was this listlessness that led to Higuain's third goal, a marvelous header that likely wouldn't have happened if the Korean defense had maintained some sense of confidence.

Higuain's hat trick, the first since Pauleta scored three goals for Portugal against Poland in the 2002 Cup, could ultimately destroy South Korea's chances for advancing to the second round.

Despite playing well, my biggest worry is for the Korean psyche. After giving up an own goal and two late goals that dejected the team, they will need to come back strong against a tough Nigerian side, where a loss would end their run in 2010.

The South Korean team has clearly proven that they can play with some of the best teams in the World, making Greece look silly on Saturday, and playing admirably against Argentina for the majority of the contest.

However, if they can't recover from this unfortunate score line, they will be in major trouble next week against Nigeria.

Currently sitting at a minus one goal differential, they have certainly made it hard to qualify with simply a tie against the African side, and will be looking for a win.

Are they up to the task? Prior to the World Cup, I predicted that South Korea would beat Greece and lose to Argentina, and then come back to beat Nigeria. 

My gut still says that they can do it, but only time will tell if they can recover from this loss.