ARG 4 - 1 KOR: Higuain hat-trick guides Argentina to big win
Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain has netted the first hat-trick of the 2010 World Cup, which helped his side to a 4-1 win over South Korea in Johannesburg.
Group BArgentina: 4 (Park Chu-Young (og) 17', Gonzalo Higuain 33', 76', 80') South Korea: 1 (Lee Chung-Yong 45+1')
Venue: Soccer City Stadium - Johannesburg Crowd: 82,174 Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (BEL) Yellow cards:ARG - Jonas Gutierrez 55', Javier Mascherano 55', Gabriel Heinze 74' KOR - Yeom Ki-Hun 10', Lee Chung-Yong 34'
Argentina had all of the play in the opening 15 minutes and they turned it into a lead when Lionel Messi swung in a free-kick from the left flank which deflected off South Korean striker Park Chu-Young straight past goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong.
Just before the half-hour mark, Argentina were centimetres away from going two goals up when Messi played a dead ball back to Carlos Tevez who slammed it goalward with a flying 25-yard shot but it powered past Jung and just over the net.
Diego Maradona's men made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute when Maxi Rodriguez whipped a ball into the area which was met with a glancing header by Javier Mascherano and the ball found Gonzalo Higuain at the backpost who guided it into the back of the net with his head.
Argentina were all over the Koreans and it could have been a third when Angel Di Maria found space at the top of the area after a floating cross from Higuain which was parried away by Jung but the Benfica winger's left-footed blast was again saved by Jung who seemed to be in the middle of a shooting range.
South Korea managed to somehow get a goal back just before half-time when defender Martin Demichelis made a fatal error which was capitalised on by Lee Chung-Yong and flicked past Sergio Romero moments before the whistle.
Once again, it was Argentina making all the play and they came agonisingly close from restoring their two-goal buffer when Tevez played in Di Maria and his little touch was knocked goalward by Higuain but Jung was yet again in the way and knocked it to safety.
Just prior to the hour-mark, the Koreans should have been on level terms when Yeom Ki-Hun found himself in a goalscoring position but he squandered the opportunity by smashing the ball into the side netting.
The pace of the game dropped a notch or two as the minutes ticked on and although South Korea were pushing hard for an equaliser, Argentina went 3-1 up in the 76th minute thanks to some more Messi brilliance. The Barcelona star weaved his way past the Korean defence before Jung blocked his initial shot and his follow up bounced off the near post and deflected to a waiting Higuain who scored with the simplest of tap-ins.
Four minutes later, the Real Madrid striker made it a hat-trick when substitute Sergio Aguero played a perfect ball with the outside of his foot which Higuain met with a header and neatly tucked it past Jung to make it 4-1 and kill off all South Korean hope.
ARG Sergio Romero (gk), Martin Demichelis, Gabriel Heinze, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain (Bolatti 82'), Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez (Aguero 75'), Walter Samuel (Burdisso 23'), Javier Mascherano, Jonas Gutierrez, Maxi Rodriguez
Subs - Nicolas Burdisso (23'), Sergio Aguero (75'), Mario Bolatti (82')
KOR Jung Sung-Ryong (gk), Oh Beom-Seok, Cho Yong-Hyung, Park Ji-Sung, Kim Jung-Woo, Park Chu-Young (Lee D.G. 81', Lee Young-Pyo, Lee Jung-Soo, Ki Sung-Yeung (Kim N.I. 46'), Lee Chung-Yong, Yeom Ki-Hun
Subs - Kim Nam-Il (46'), Lee Dong-Gook (81')