William Gallas and Claude Makelele face the prospect of an early exit from the World Cup after South Korea snatched a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with the 1998 champions last night in Leipzig.
France dominated the game but failed to make their superiority count after Thierry Henry scored France’s first World Cup goal since ex Chelsea midfielder Manu Petit finished off Brazil in Paris eight years ago. Patrick Vieira had a goal incorrectly ruled out after his 31st minute header had clearly crossed the line before being scooped away by Korea keeper Lee Woon-jae, while several other good chances were spurned. With less than ten minutes remaining, Fabien Barthez confirmed why many French football fans believe that Gregory Coupet should be first choice between the posts when he flapped at Ji-Sung Park’s bundled attempt which crept over the line past a furious Gallas. Zinedine Zidane was booked and will miss the final group game against Togo, possibly leaving last night’s debacle as a rather inadequate footnote to his illustrious career.
In Group F, Australia put up a tremendous fight against Brazil but eventually went down 2-0 to goals from Inter Milan’s Adriano and a late tap-in by Lyon’s Fred. Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka both went close for the Socceroos who played well enough to deserve some reward from the game, with Brazil still relatively unconvincing considering the array of talent at their disposal. Despite their defeat, Australia did have reason to celebrate as Japan’s goalless draw with Croatia leaves Guus Hiddink’s side needing a point from their game with the Croatians to ensure progression to the last sixteen.
Chelsea new boy Andriy Shevchenko will be looking to breath some life into Ukraine’s tournament when they take on Saudi Arabia this afternoon in Hamburg. Spain will book their place in the second phase if they beat Tunisia in Stuttgart while debutants Togo, currently plagued by internal arguments and threatened player walk-outs, will face Switzerland in Dortmund if they stop bickering for long enough.
Away from the World Cup, the Guardian reports that Celtic boss Gordon Strachan is looking to replace the recently retired Roy Keane with Jiri Jarosik, who spent last season on loan with Birmingham City. The Glasgow club have also been linked with moves for former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink and one-time Tottenham target Carlton Cole.