Half-time musings: It’s been an entertaining, if slightly odd game. Ghana were seriously under the cosh for the first 23 minutes, conceding corner after corner after corner, all of which were wasted by South Korea.
Their opener came against the run of play and courtesy of an excellent dead ball delivery into the South Korea penalty area which was eventually converted by Mohammed Salisu. A whipped Ayew cross 10 minutes later needed only the faintest of touches from Mohammed Kudus to double the African side’s lead.
Peep! The teams troupe off for their half-time refreshments, with Ghana two goals to the good. Jordan Ayew provided the assists for both, his crosses into the South Korea penalty area being converted by Mohammed Salisu and Mohammed Kudus.
45+5 min: Ghana win a corner and Jordan Ayew’s delivery is outstanding this time. The inswinging ball threatens to drop under the cross-bar but is put over by a combination of Kim Seung-gyu’s glove and Thomas Partey’s shoulder.
45+4 min: South Korea right-back Kim Moon-hwan plays a give-and-go on the outskirts of the Ghana penalty area but is dispossessed by a well-timed Gideon Mensah challenge.
45+2 min: We’re into five minutes of added time and Ghana have their first corner of the game. Jordan Ayew, already the assist-provider for both his team’s goals, channels his inner Son Heung-min and fails to clear the first defender, who heads away at the near post.
45+1: Hwang In-beom eschews an opportunity to pass to Son Heung-min in a decent position and elects instead to curl a shot from distance high and wide of the Ghana goal. A clearly exasperated Son is not best pleased.
43 min: Son runs to the byline from a deep position but is crowded off the ball by a posse of retreating Ghanaians including Lamptey and Kudus. Throw-in for South Korea, deep in Ghana territory. Nothing comes of it.
41 min: Kwon Chang-hoon overhits a pass into the pocket of space down by the corner flag and the ball bounces harmlessly out of play. Elsewhere, Jung Woo-young goes to ground feeling his jaw gingerly after a collision with one of his own teammates.
40 min: “You are being biased don’t comment with a forked tongue comment like a true commentator,” writes Abdur, without further elaboration.
38 min: Having roared out of the traps in this game and put Ghana under the most intense pressure, South Korea have really wilted. They do, however, get a shot off here at the end of an attack, Son shooting over the bar. Had his effort gone under it, the goal would not have stood as there was a very late flag for an offside earlier in the build-up.
36 min: “Are you positive that the picture you posted of the referee is actually a picture of Anthony Taylor?” asks JR in Illinois. “It really does not look at all like Anthony Taylor to me. It looks like a picture of Szymon Marciniak. #notallbaldrefereeslookalike.” Hmmm … I think you might be right, JR. Apologies, Anthony. And to you too, Szymon.
Crikey! Ghana double their lead. Jordan Ayew whips a delightful cross from the left into the South Korea penalty area and Mohammed Kudus gets the faintest of touches with his forehead on the edge of the six-yard box. Goal!
32 min: Inaki Williams controls a ball from deep with a great take-down on the right side of the Ghana penalty area. With Andre Ayew screaming for a cross, WIlliams tries to go it alone and ends up fouling a defender, conceding a cheap free-kick in the progress.
30 min: It’s worth noting that Ghanas’s goal came completely against the run of play but it seems to have left South Korea a bit shell-shocked. Ghana have visibly grown in confidence since opeing the scoring.
28 min: Hats off to Jordan Ayew, whose delivery from that free-kick was outstanding. He droppped the ball right into the edge of the South Korea six-yard box and the Asian side simply couldn’t clear it.
The goal stands! I’m surprised by that decision, I have to say. Without checking his pitchside monitor, Anthony Taylor relies on the word of his VAR Tomasz Kwiatkowski and Ghana embark on a second celebration.
There’s a VAR check. The ball appears to have hit Andre Ayew’s hand as it dropped into the penalty area. I think this is going to be disallowed.
Ghana lead! Jordan Ayew and Muhammed Kudus stand over the free-kick. Kudus dummies and Ayew swings the ball into the box, where South Korea fail to clear and Salisu pokes home in the ensuing scramble.
23 min: Ghana finally enjoy some time on the ball and win a free-kick wide on the left when Jordan Ayew is fouled by Hwang In-beom.
20 min: Anthony Taylor blows up play and has his attention drawn by his video assistant referee to an off the ball incident starring Daniel Amartey, who gets booked for swinging an arm across Jo Gue-sung and catching him in the face.
17 min: South Korea win their sixth corner of the game on the back of good work down the left wing by Kwon Chang-hoon. Son’s delivery to the near post is aimed at Jo Gue-sung and goes out for another corner. This one is cleared at the near post by Gideon Mensah. Son keeps aiming for that near post with his corner kicks but it’s not doing South Korea much good.
16 min: Inaki Williams tries to run on to a weighted pass in behind the South Korea defence but it’s overhit by Jordan Ayew. South Korea goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu gets a rare touch of the ball as he scrambles out of his goal to collect.
13 min: Jeong Woo-yeong is penalised for a shove on a rival as Ghana embark on a counter-attack and gets a look of reproach from Anthony Taylor. “Up with that kind of behaviour I will not put,” the English ref seems to be saying. “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.”
12 min: Relentless pressure from South Korea, who win another corner. Once again, Son’s delivery leacves a lot to be desired. Tariq Lamptey clears from his position as first defender.
11 min: Son wins a corner under pressure from Thomas Partey. He swings the ball into the mixer but the delivery is poor. Mohammed Salisu clears at the near post.
9 min: South Korea keep applying the pressure. Their right-back Kim Moon-hwan motors down his wing but overhits a cross and puts the ball out for a goal-kick.
8 min: Hwang In-beom’s corner kick is cleared at the near post.
7 min: Jeong takes a touch then has a shot from about 20 yards deflected out for a corner. Ghana half-clear but the ball comes back into their penalty area. South Korea win another corner on the back of an overlapping run from their centre-half Kim Min-Jae.
6 min: South Korea win a free-kick wide on the left for a Tariq Lamptey foul on Son. The ball is played square and then into the penalty area, where Andre Ayew puts it out for a corner.
4 min: Ghana free-kick, wide on the right. Mohammed Kudus sends the ball into the penalty area, it’s cleared and South Korea break upfield in numbers and at great speed. Jo Gue-sung and Kim Jun-su combine to get gets the ball into the box but Ghana clear.
2 min: Ghana attempt to play the ball out from the back but are immediately find themselves in the face of an intense South Korean press. Son Heung-min, the South Korean captain, is still wearing his protective face mask, a Zorro-esque legacy of the facial injury he suffered in the build-up to the tournament.
1 min: Jeong Woo-yeong gets the ball rolling for South Korea, their players wearing red shirts, shorts and socks. The players of Ghana wear all white.
Not long now: Referee Anthony Taylor and his assistants lead out the teams, who line up either side of the match officials for the national anthems. Kick-off is just five minutes and the last of the pre-match formalities away.
Those teams: Kim Min-jae starts for South Korea despite concerns about his fitness, meaning Paulo Bento’s back five of Kim, Kim, Kim, Kim and Kim remains intact. The Portuguese manager does make three changes further up the field, with Lee Jae-sing, Na Sang-ho and Hwan Ui-jo making way for Cho Gue-sung, Kwon Chang-hoon and Jeong Woo-keong.
Ghana manager Otto Adda also makes three changes in a state of affairs that suggests he’s switching to a back four. Tariq Lamptey, Gideon Mensah and Jordan Ayew all come into his starting line-up, with Baba Rahman, Alexander Djiku and Alidu Seidu dropping to the bench.
Ghana: Lawrence Ati-Zigi, Tariq Lamptey, Daniel Amartey, Mohammed Salisu, Gideon Mensah, Thomas Partey, Salis Abdul Samed, Mohammed Kudus, Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Inaki Williams.
South Korea: Kim Seung-gyu, Kim Moon-hwan, Kim Min-jae, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Jin-su, Jung Woo-young, Kwon Chang-hoon, Jeong Woo-yeong, Hwang In-beom, Son Heung-min, Cho Gue-sung.
Today’s match officials
Otto Addo speaks: “First of all, surely, we have a chance [of qualifying] especially since they [Uruguay and South Korea] played a draw,” said Ghana’s manager yesterday. “So, if we win against South Korea and Portugal win, hopefully, against Uruguay, then we will be second, so the chance is still big. And surely it will be very, very tough to beat South Korea because they are good. But now, we have to win. We are under pressure, but they are too.”
Paulo Bento speaks: “I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever,” said the South Korea manager yesterday. “I would love the players to feel the way I do, but I know they come from a different culture. We will have a difficult game but we are able to do well. We have great and utmost respect for a great team in Ghana and the players who compete at a very high level.
“For our strategy, we have to try to be ourselves. We are very well aware of the skills and how good Ghana are, this will be a match where in some moments we will have the capacity to control the game. They have skilled players from a technical standpoint and they are also very quick in attack. We want to control the game, and also the moments when they are in attack.”
Early team news
South Korea manager Paulo Bento is without Hwang Hee-chan for today’s encounter, the Wolves striker sidelined with a hamstring injury. Napoili centre-back Kim Min-jae is also rated a doubtful starter as he is reported to be struggling with a calf injury. Ghana boss Otto Addo has a full squad of 26 players to choose from.
The Education City Stadium is the venue for today’s match between South Korea and Ghana, with the African side in dire need of some polints after losing 3-2 Portugal in their opener. Regardless of what happens in this evening’s other Group H match between Portugal and Uruguay, the Black Stars will be out if they lose today.
With one point on the board following their somewhat fortuitous scoreless draw against Uruguay, a match in which they failed to register a single shot on target, South Korea will be hoping for a win that would ramp up the pressure on Uruguay and Portugal ahead of their match later on. Kick-off at the Education City Stadium is at 1pm (GMT) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.