South Korea vs Spain: It's been 20 years since controversial World Cup game | OneFootball

South Korea vs Spain: It's been 20 years since controversial World Cup game

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It’s been 20 years since South Korea beat Spain on penalties as they hosted the 2002 World Cup.

However, that doesn’t tell half the story of a hugely controversial match.

The hosts had already beaten Portugal and Italy in dubious circumstances to book their place in the last eight.

But their victory over Spain left a lot of football fans furious.

During the match, the Spaniards had two goals that appeared legitimate disallowed while they were flagged offside on multiple occasions when the call looked extremely tight.

The first disallowed goal came when a free-kick was floated into the South Korea penalty box. It bounced off Kim Tae Young’s shoulder and into his own net. However, Egyptian referee Gamal Ahmed Al-Ghandour ruled it out for a shirt pull by Ivan Helguera.


Then, just minutes into extra time, Spain had another goal ruled out.

A young Joaquin beat his man and clipped the ball brilliantly onto the head of Fernando Moreientes who made no mistake. However, this time, the assistant referee had his flag up suggesting the ball had gone out for a goal kick. Replays showed it clearly didn’t.

“You can see the ball never went out on TV,” complained Carles Puyol afterwards. “I don’t want to think that the referee went out to rob either team but the pictures speak for themselves. It’s clear the referee was not in our favour.”

“Everyone saw two perfectly good goals. If Spain didn’t win it’s because they didn’t let us win.” Helguera added.

So, onto penalties, and it was just destined for South Korea to progress to the semi-finals.

And there was always going to be a hint of controversy as goalkeeper Lee Woon Jae’s all-important save from Joaquin’s penalty came when he was yards off his line.

But South Korea triumphed and went on to face Germany in the semi-final – a tie they lost 1-0.

But that quarter-final win against Spain will always be remembered and highlights show just how hard done by Spain can feel. Check them out:

VIDEO: South Korea’s controversial win over Spain 20 years ago

On the 20th anniversary of the match, Spanish outlet Marca had an interview with the referee that day.

But Al-Ghandour insists his refereeing performance was good and, instead, blames his assistants.

“Spanish people cannot blame me for that defeat against Korea because, before the end of the game, they had several clear opportunities,” he said. “They could have won the game before the penalty shootout. Only the referee gets judged sometimes the decisions are made by our assistants. I stick to what I said: I had an excellent performance. In fact, FIFA gave me 8.7 out of 10 that day.

“Analysing the incidents, for me there is only one debatable decision and that is the disallowed goal as Joaquin’s cross may not have gone out of play. That is the main point of discussion.

“The mistakes made by my assistants should not count against me. It is worth remembering that Camacho’s men had two goals disallowed in total. This, as well as an important amount of controversial decisions meant the match went to a penalty shootout. Joaquin was the only one to miss.

“In 2019, I visited Spain for a TV programme and I believe that, since then, my public image in the country changed and Spanish people could see that I didn’t make a mistake. They were clearly made by my assistants. I believe that Spain fans’ perception changed after that programme.”

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