South Korea and Mexico lock horns in the opening game of Group B in the Olympics. TheHardTackle rewinds to a meeting between these two sides in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
South Korea came into the 1998 FIFA World Cup without a single win to their name in their fourteen World Cup games prior to this. Mexico, on the other hand were looking to break their quarter final jinx and prove their worth at the biggest stage of them all. Having been drawn in a group with the Netherlands and Belgium, both teams knew just how keenly contested an affair this was going to be.
The Mexicans were clear favorites right from the start and a lot was expected from the 25-year-old Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Mexico didn’t take long to show their intent, as captain, Alberto Garcia Aspe, came close with a long range effort. South Korea managed to keep the Mexican attackers out with some desperate defending, as wave after wave of Mexican attacks bombarded the Korean penalty area.
Shockingly, it was the Koreans who took the lead in the 27th minute thanks to a Ha-Seok Ju free kick, that was deflected into the Mexican goal. A couple of minutes after the goal was scored, Ha-Seok Ju was sent off for a bad challenge from behind. The Koreans’ demise had begun.
South Korea went into the break with the lead, but things were to change drastically after the restart. Mexico leveled the score through half time substitute, Ricardo Peláez. With about fifteen minutes remaining, Luis Hernandez put Mexico in the lead with a simple tap in. Hernandez then went on to complete the rout with a third goal.
South Korea had to wait four more years to record their first ever victory in a World Cup, while Mexico continued to fail to get past the quarter final stage. Luis Hernandez’s brace in this game was followed by one goal against the Netherlands and one against Germany, making him the highest goalscorer for Mexico in World Cup history.