Korea Republic secured second place in Group C and set up a last 16 duel against Paraguay with a comfortable 3-0 win over ten-man USA. It was an evening to forget for the outplayed Americans, who finish ahead of Cameroon but must now hope for an unlikely reprieve if they are to qualify as one of the best third-placed sides.
Unconvincing against Cameroon and Germany, the Taeguk Warriors produced easily their best performance of the tournament thus far and were good value for their win. The warning signs were there for the US as early as the tenth minute, when Yun Suk Young cut in from the left on his right foot and forced a smart save from the alert Brian Perk.
Ten minutes later, Thomas Rongen's side had an amazing escape, when Perk somehow diverted the ball on to the underside of the crossbar with his outstretched boot after Koo Ja Cheol had blasted the ball goalwards from 10 yards. There was a good tempo to the game at this stage as play flowed from end to end, and USA duly swept forward to post a first-rate effort of their own, with Kim Seung Gyu forced into an agile one-handed save to tip away a Bryan Arguez drive, which was heading for the top corner.
The South Koreans remained on top, however, and the reward for their excellent early play came just two minutes later. USA shot themselves in the foot with some sloppy defending at a corner, and Kim Young Gwon punished them ruthlessly, turning cleverly before coolly curling a shot home off the left-hand post
The Americans could have no complaints, although they wasted a glorious chance to restore parity a couple of minutes after falling behind when Brek Shea raced clean through only to drag his shot wastefully wide. However, their most costly mistakes continued to come at the other end, with another defensive error three minutes before the break giving Korea Republic the chance to double their lead. Sheanon Williams completely misjudged Park Hee Seong's cross and, again, the Taeguk Warrios had no intentions of turning down the gift, with Kim Bo Kyung rifling a left-foot shot low into the far corner of the net.
This pattern of South Korean dominance was repeated after the break, with the anticipated US backlash failing to materialise. Koo Ja Cheol had already gone close, in fact, when the Asians sealed a well deserved 3-0 win with 17 minutes remaining. Ike Opara was the US villain on this occasion, scything down Koo to earn a second yellow and concede a penalty, from which the Korea Republic No7 put the outcome beyond doubt by sending Perk the wrong way.