Monday, 6 August 2012

We lose out on penalties... Again

Another penalty shootout, usual result despite the Welsh contingent. Although many supporters can't complain with the result, It was kind of coming throughout the fixture and GB looked outclassed throughout. They stuck with the same side that scraped past Uruguay in the group stages with Sinclair still being retained. South Korea were a suprise package up until this point so it was hard to guage where they really stood among the elite's in football. With Sunderland's Ji Dong Woon leading the line there were unknown names throughout the squad.

So a side boasting the best young talent in the country up against the relatively unknown foreign opponents. The opening half was poor at best from Team GB but there were two turning points in the game and both of them coming from the Welshman Aaron Ramsey. He has been slowly coming into the form of his past in the tournament. He was playing the role of Ryan Giggs who had to be content with a place on the bench perhaps resting him for Brazil.

The Millenium Stadium was in a racious atmosphere once again and it wasn't to inspire the home side this time it perhaps startled them with South Korea hassling their every move. Team GB couldn't get a hold of the ball and their less fabled opponents were pumping crosses into the boxes with some headers being sent over the bar despite being unmarked, simple and efficient. Some good approach play let to Sunderland's Ji turning and smashing a powerful shot towards young goalkeeper Jack Butland, the easy save expected but not fulfilled. It seemed to go straight through his hands which was his first mistake in the tournament at such a crucial time. Lack of experience blamed.

GB were getting overawed and more importantly outclassed in every position, It took a moment of luck to turn the game on it's head. Ryan Bertrand belting forward and mis-hitting a shot and it struck a South Korean hand which led to a penalty for home favourite Aaron Ramsey who stepped up and placed it to his left which just crept under the keeper. A poor penalty but lady luck was smiling over Cardiff then.

It seemed to spring the home side into life and Scott Sinclair finally got involved after 20 minutes and hit an early ball into Daniel Sturridge who knocked the ball past Hwang Seok-Ho who after a moment of madness brought him down and through on goal and once again Ramsey stepped up. This time he put in the opposite corner and it was a simple save again although another poor penalty. So the question is why was the more experience penalty takers not up to the task. Sinclair/Bellamy/Cleverly who have taken penalties on numerous occasions available.

The second half had the air of two sides who didn't want to press forward and provide an open game and would rather protect what they had although Cleverly was unlucky not to get on the end of a Bellamy cross. The Welshman on the right had been Team GB's best player throughout the tournament found himself more and more isolated after that and was subbed despite being involved in their best moves. Ji once again proving the home fans with something to remember him a header across the goal line with the entire back five just watching on. Giggs had been brought on for the tiring Bellamy but to the home side's disappointment only 5 minutes from the end. The Welshman acted like a quarterback in the closing stages and started in similar fashion as soon as extra time had prevailed. 

Team GB were very poor in extra time and seemed settled for penalties which is risky considering the luck of the draw perhaps some more ambition needed to be shown for such an occasion. South Korea could have made it comfortable in extra time with Butland attoning for his earlier mistakes and provided a diving save for Koo Ja-Cheol and luckily Ji put the resulting header wide, both should have done better. Daniel Sturridge who drifted in and out of the game throughout had a little of the ball towards the end of the game but wanted to make a name for himself instead of using his head. 

So.... Penalties

The South Koreans were taking their penalties almost business-like, it was calm and compact from each one. Ramsey picked himself up to score again with more aplomb although such a strike earlier was needed, Cleverly and Dawson also seeing their strikes hit the back of the net and Giggs well usual service from the heralded Welsh favourite. Up stepped Sturridge for his 5th penalty after seeing the Koreans effortlessly put them in the top corners he stuttered up to the spot and aimed to the same spot on which Ramsey missed almost two hours earlier and the reserve keeper Lee-Bum-Young claimed the biggest scalp of all. A country left in disappointment after penalties again.

Much Appreciated
A very Disappointed

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