Only a Raul Meireles goal divided the teams after a closely contested first half but it was a different story after the restart when Portugal devastated the North Korean defence with three goals inside eight minutes before the hour from Simao, Hugo Almeida and Tiago. With the clock ticking down, Liedson, Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiago again compounded their opponents' woes to produce Portugal's biggest FIFA World Cup™ victory and the widest winning margin so far in South Africa.
There were few parallels to draw with the teams' previous meeting on the world stage, their 1966 quarter-final in England when Eusebio – watching from the stands in Cape Town – so famously struck four goals as Portugal retrieved a three-goal deficit. There will be no repeat run from the North Koreans this time, their second defeat in Group G confirming their elimination. Portugal, by contrast, sit second in the section, with a three-point advantage over Côte d’Ivoire – and overwhelming gulf in goal difference – ahead of their final game against Brazil.
Carlos Queiroz's men made a positive start with defender Ricardo Carvalho nodding Simao's corner against the far post after seven minutes. As against Brazil in their opening 2-1 defeat, Korea DPR looked in no way overawed, however. With the rain teeming down, the Koreans pieced together a slick move on the fast surface that almost let in Jong Tae-Se only for the No9 to fail to control the through-ball. Otherwise, when they had the chance to shoot, they took it. Cha Jong-Hyok speared an effort just wide from distance, then Hong Yong-Jo arrowed in a shot from the right that Eduardo parried, Pak Nam-Chol failing to keep his header down on the follow-up.
Indeed Portugal coach Queiroz might have been forgiven a short sigh of relief when midfielder Meireles gave his side the lead in the 29th minute, timing his run into the North Korean box perfectly to meet Tiago's pass and drive the ball low past Ri Myong-Guk. A goal to the good, Portugal ended the half on top. Meireles sliced a shot wide before Fabio Coentrao teed up Hugo Almeida with a low centre but the big striker's attempted flick failed to come off.
Portugal did not have to wait long to double their advantage after the restart. Korea DPR custodian Ri Myong-Guk had already tipped over Tiago’s shot when Simao made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute. There was some impressive build-up play as Almeida backheeled to Meireles who played in Simao to slide the ball past Ri Myong-Guk. Within three minutes it was 3-0, Tiago sending Coentrao down the left and the full-back crossing for Almeida to nod past the goalkeeper. Portugal were now tearing them apart and by the hour they had their fourth goal, Tiago finding the net from Ronaldo's lay-off.
Meireles and Coentrao missed chances to underline their dominance, before Ronaldo rattled the crossbar with a spectacular strike. Yet in a late flurry, Portugal forced open the floodgates once more. Ri Kwang-Chon's mistake let in substitute Liedson to smash a shot high into the net. Ronaldo then opened his account after Liedson took advantage of some sloppy play in the Korean defence to play in the Real Madrid star – trying to pass the goalkeeper on the edge of the box, the ball bounced up off Ri Myong-Guk and on to Ronaldo's back before dropping from his head to his foot for an easy finish. Tiago's header one minute from time completed a magnificent seven.