South Korea equalize! It’s a scrappy goal but they’ll take it!
25 mins: Matheus Nunes barges Lee Kang-in off the ball and south korea win a free-kick about 40 yards from the Portugal goal. The ball in towards Cho Gue-sung is a good one but Pep heads it out for a corner.
23 mins: Back in the game I’m actually supposed to be covering, Matheus Nunes sends an excellent cross into the south korea penalty area, trying to pick out Ronaldo. Facing his own goal, Kyung-won Kwon stretches to hack the ball clear before it reaches its intended target. Good defending.
22 mins: If you don’t want to follow that one with Rob Smyth, I can tell you that Andre Ayew has just struck one of the worst penalties I’ve ever seen and had his effort saved.
20 mins: Elsewhere in Group H, Ghana have been awarded a penalty against Uruguay, whose players are protesting furiously. You can follow the action from that game with Rob Smyth …
16 mins: south korea corner. They play is short and Son sends a cross fizzing in. The Ball’s flicked goalwards off a South Korean head and Diogo Costa saves brilliantly. Jin-su Kim knocks in the rebound from close range but is correctly flagged for offside. That’s a fan-tas-tic save from Costa.
14 mins: Another long ball from Portugal and this time it’s the South Korean right-back, Kim Moon-hwan, who is targeted. Joao Cancelo cuts inside him, sells him a dummy and shoots from a tight angle. south korea goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu saves.
12 mins: south korea are dominating possession but haven’t presented anything in the way of a goal threat yet. As things stand, Portugal will be going through as Group H winners with Ghana in second place. It’s currently scoreless between the African side and Uruguay.
10 minutes: south korea advance upfield goal Joao Cancelo intercepts a rogue crossfield pass and plays the ball forward for Portugal.
7 mins: It was a poor goal for south korea to concede. Pep played a long diagonal ball from deep down the right channel for Diogo Dalot to chase. He controlled it with a lovely touch, cut inside South Korea’s left-back Jim-su Kim and scampered along the touchline. His pull-back to the near post was precise and the incoming Horta volleyed home from six or seven yards. An already difficult task for South Korea has just got a lot more challenging.
Portugal lead! Ricardo Horta fires his side in front with a fine volley from close range.
3 mins: With Paulo Bento serving a touchline ban, his assistant Sergio Costa is standing, pointing and waving in the Portugal technical area this afternoon.
2 min: An early south korea attack comes to an abrupt halt when Joao Cancelo is fouled just outside his own penalty area and wins a free-kick.
1 min: south korea get the ball rolling, their players wearing red shirts, shorts and socks. The players of Portugal are a vision in white. South Korea skipper Heung-min Son is still wearing his Zorro mask in the interests of face protection.
Not long now: Out march the teams led by Argentinian referee Facundo Tello and his team of match officials. The last of the pre-match formalities and fripperies are about to get under way. South Korea’s national anthem will be followed by that of Portugal and kick-off is just a few minutes away.
An email: “Now in the stadium and we are being treated to a CR7 video montage of his greatest moments and constant Ronaldo hype from the MC,” writes Hugh Molloy. “This is game No8 for me and it has not happened for any other player. They seem to have missed off the bit about him failing this season, criticalizing his team mates/manager/club and currently being unemployed!”
Those teams: Cristiano Ronaldo leads Portugal’s attack but Fernando Santos makes six changes to the side that beat Uruguay on Monday. Diogo Dalot and Antonio Silva into Portugal’s defence, while Matheus Nunes, Vitinha and Joao Mario come into the midfield in place of Bernardo Silva, William Carvalho and Bruno Fernandes. Ricardo Horta replaces Joao Felix up front.
Paulo Bento leaves out central defender Kim Min-jae, who has been struggling with injury. Gamba Osako defender Kwon Kyung-won comes in for the Napoli man, while Lee Jae-sung and Lee Kang-in start in midfield.
An email: “On the Metro on the way to the stadium and I can confirm the crowd is 40% Portugal, 10% south korea but 50% (already annoying) Ronaldo fans shouting, ‘Siuuu!!!’,” writes Hugh Molloy.
South Korea: Kim Seung-gyu, Kim Moon-hwan, Kwon Kyung-won, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Jin-su, Lee Jae-sung, Lee Kang-in, Jeong Woo-yeong, Hwang In-beom, Son Heung-min, Cho Gue-sung.
Subs: Yoon, Min-Jae Kim, Paik, Hee-Chan Hwang, Bum-Keun Song, Jun-Ho Son, Hong, Eui-Jo Hwang, Na, Jo, Chang-Hoon Kwon, Tae-Hwan Kim, Yu-Min Cho, Jeong, Min-Kyu Song.
Portugal: Diogo Costa, Diogo Dalot, Pepe, Antonio Silva, Joao Cancelo, Matheus Nunes, Ruben Neves, Vitinha, Joao Mario, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Horta.
Subs: Rui Patricio, Dias, Guerreiro, Joao Palhinha, Bruno Fernandes, Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Jose Sa, William Carvalho, Leao, Goncalo Ramos.
Paul Bento: South Korea’s manager will send his team out to beat the country of his birth today but will be absent from the dug-out after being shown a red card for dissent following the defeat at the hands of Ghana.
“They make most of the choices, they suggest them to me,” he said of the coaching staff who will be on the touchline. “It’s not going to be a problem. This time they will be on their own but it won’t change much.” Bento also said he will happily sing both nations’ national anthems from his seat in the stands.
Fernando Santos: “If we had to face each other, it would be a game between two great teams,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos of the prospect of his team facing Brazil if they finish second in Group H. “But our wish, and Brazil’s, is that we meet later on.”
Today’s match officials
Referee: Facundo Tello
Assistant referee: Ezequiel Braislovsky and Gabriel Chade
Fourth official: Maguette N’Diaye
Video Assistant Referee: Nicholas Gallo
Early team news
Sidelined with a hamstring injury, Wolves striker Hwang Hee-chan has yet to feature for south korea in this tournament and is a major doubt for this game. Son Heung-min will lead the line on his 107th appearance for his country.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed training yesterday and his participation in this game is in doubt, while Portugal are definitely without left-back Nuno Mendes, who has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament after being forced off against Uruguay. Defensive midfielder Danilo and right-sided midfielder Otavio are also expected to sit out today’s game.
Those Group H permutations in full*
Portugal have qualified. A point will guarantee they win the group.
Ghana: A win against Uruguay will put Ghana through. A draw will be enough unless south korea beat Portugal, in which case Ghana must hope South Korea pull off only a one goal victory, otherwise the Asian side will pip them on goal difference.
south korea: They must beat Portugal, and hope that Ghana do not win. If Ghana draw then their hopes depend on their goal difference compared to Ghana. If Ghana lose, then South Korean hopes depend on their goal difference compared to Uruguay.
Uruguay: Uruguay must win, and hope that South Korea does not win against Portugal. If both Uruguay and South Korea win, then their relative goal differences will decide who qualifies. Uruguay start with a goal difference one worse than South Korea, so would have to beat Ghana by more than South Korea beat Portugal.
* Shamelessly plundered from Martin Belam’s World Cup live blog.
With apologies to any German readers, now that the rest of us have calmed down yesterday’s excitement it’s time for the four teams in Group H to take up the cudgels. A certain Luis Suarez and his role in the high profile grudge match between Ghana and Uruguay have dominated the headlines in the build-up to today’s action but there’s plenty riding on the game between south korea and Portugal too.
While Portugal have already booked their berth in the last 16, a draw or win today will guarantee them top spot. South Korea, by contrast, have to win today and even then their passage to the knockout stages is not secured. As well as winning their own game, they need Uruguay to do them a favor by getting at least a point against Ghana. Kick off at the Education Stadium is at 3pm (GMT) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.