The South Koreans were the dominant force for virtually all of the first half in the Port Elizabeth Stadium although they had to withstand some initial pressure from Greece with Vasileios Torosidis seeing an effort fly off target. The same player should then have scored following Georgios Karagounis's corner but he put a decent chance wide from nine yards.
Huh Jung-Moo's side shrugged off that scare and proceeded to pin their opponents back, and with only seven minutes gone they forged ahead. A free-kick from near the left-hand corner flag found the blue shirts all at sea and at the far post Lee Jung-Soo pounced to sidefoot home and become his country's fastest-ever scorer at a FIFA World Cup.
Greece, European champions in 2004, never recovered from that setback and Korea smelled the chance of further goals with Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung always a danger and Yeom Ki-Hun also pulling the strings. In the 28th minute the South Koreans, fast-raiding and adroit with their ball control, fashioned an outstanding chance to double their advantage as Park Ji-Sung slid a lovely ball into the feet of Park Chu-Young.
Park Chu-Young was clear of the last man but just as he attempted to seal his strong run with a scoring finish, a combination of the back-pedalling Loukas Vyntra and Alexandros Tzorvas denied him, the goalkeeper making a vital intervention to deflect the ball over. Greece had to change their approach and Otto Rehhagel decided to take off captain Karagounis at the break with Christos Patsatzoglou coming in. However with another goal seven minutes into the second period, Korea put the game as good as out of reach.
It was a disaster for Greek defending as they gave possession away inside their own half through Vyntra and were left helpless as Park Ji-Sung took ruthless advantage. There was strength, control and determination in his run as he tore into the penalty area before burying a left-footed shot past Tzorvas to become only the second Asian player to score in three different FIFA World Cups, having also found the net in 2002 and 2006. It should have been three minutes later as Park Chu-Young dashed between defenders to meet a cross from the right but he could not keep his header down.
Greece, who had not managed a goal in any of their three previous FIFA World Cup games – all of which had been lost in 1994 – had no option but to give everything to try and claw back the deficit. They looked to Theofanis Gekas, who with ten goals was the leading scorer in European qualifying, to inspire an recovery, and he tried an ambitious overhead kick which went over. Soon after Pantelis Kapetanos scooped the ball over as it was drilled in from the left while Gekas forced Jung Sung-Ryong into a fine save at the end. But there was no dispute that Korea were good value for their three points.