YOKOHAMA, Japan – South Korea was the biggest star on Asia’s biggest day at the World Cup.
Playing in its sixth Cup finals, the co-host won for the first time Tuesday when it beat Poland 2-0 in Busan, South Korea.
In a stadium awash in red and ringing with the chants and cheers of their fans, the Korean players put on a soccer display worthy of the world’s powerhouses.
Striker Hwang Sun-hong, playing in his fourth World Cup, opened the scoring and Yoo Sang-chul provided the clincher for the team that now poses a major threat to keep the United States from advancing to the second round.
Tuesday wasn’t quite as successful for the other co-host, although the Japanese were satisfied with their first World Cup point. They went 0-3 in 1998, but got a thrilling 2-2 tie with Belgium at Saitama.
Japanese fans banged drums, clapped and chanted “Nippon, Nippon.” The national flag, the Hinomaru, was visible in every corner of the ground and huge banners, including one reading “Welcome to Blue Heaven,” fluttered over one stand.
China, making its World Cup debut under ex-U.S. coach Bora Milutinovic, lost 2-0 to another of his former teams, Costa Rica. Ronald Gomez and Mauricio Wright scored second-half goals in Gwangju, South Korea.