French horror shows are becoming a feature of World Cups and this match was no exception as a late equaliser by South Korea's Park Ji-Sung means more humiliation now threatens for Les Bleus.
The Manchester United midfielder stunned France, who paid the price for
sitting back on Thierry Henry's early strike.
That had ended France's eight-year World Cup goal drought but it proved
insufficient as coach Raymond Domenech's over-cautious approach once more
France must now hope the other results in Group G go their way to make it into
the knockout rounds.
Questions still remain about their ability to take the game to their
opponents, and they will be without the suspended Zinedine Zidane for their
final group game against Togo.
That could prove a blessing in disguise for Zidane appears a luxury in the
team, his style at odds with France's urgent need to be more direct.
For the most part Korea were rather less impressive than their fans, but did
enough to keep the score to 1-0 until they launched a final flurry in the last
15 minutes which paid off handsomely.
France had gone into the game knowing only a win would do but Domenech made
just one change from the side that had performed so disappointingly against
Switzerland with Lyon midfielder Florent Malouda coming in for Franck Ribery in
an attempt to add extra drive to a side long on experience but short on vigour.
Whenever France looked to be more direct, Henry looked happier and he set
Sylvain Wiltord up for a clear chance but Kim Nam-Il made a vital block.
In the ninth minute, the moment France has been waiting for since 1998 arrived
when Henry scored when a Wiltord shot deflected into his path. It was France's
first World Cup goal since Emmanuel Petit's in the final against Brazil in
It was an effortlessly simple strike too, Wiltord scampering to the edge of
the area and delivering a short pass to Henry, who neatly transferred the ball
from one foot to the other before clipping the ball past Lee Woon-Jae. Having
gone in front however, France were often guilty of retreating back into their
shell again, and several times Henry gestured to his team-mates, urging them to
play a quicker ball.
Henry won a free-kick more than 30 yards out but his shot deflected off the
wall for a corner, from which Zidane won the header but could not keep it down.
A quick ball from Patrick Vieira did put Henry through and the Arsenal striker
went down under a challenge by Tottenham's Lee Young-Pyo but Mexican referee
Benito Archundia was unimpressed by his claims for a penalty.
Vieira then sent in a powerful header from Zidane's corner and Korean keeper
Lee Woon-Jae scrambled it away, though television replays suggested it may have
crossed the line.
Lee Chun-Soo finally gave France a scare in the 38th minute when his free-kick
from wide on the left evaded everyone and nearly bounced in at the far-post,
with Cho Jae-Jin unable to get the vital final touch.
Henry, Wiltord and Malouda tore open the Koreans again with some lovely
passing but desperate defending rescued Dick Advocaat's side from going two
Wiltord had an opportunity early in the second half, collecting Henry's headed
pass but striking a low shot wide from 25 yards.
Kim Dong-Jin headed over the top after making it first to Lee Chun-Soo's
free-kick, then Malouda was desperately disappointing with a sliced shot after
excellent work by Wiltord.
Ribery's introduction enlivened proceedings briefly but it was Korea who
discovered some urgency and started to attack in force.
Kim Dong-Jin had a reasonable chance for an equaliser but he headed straight
at Barthez but in the next attack they scored what had seemed the most unlikely
Lee Young-Pyo put in a deep cross from the right and Cho Jae-Jin headed it
back across goal for Park Ji-Sung to stick out a leg and deflect the ball over
Barthez to nestle just inside the post.
Vieira skied a chance for a winner, Henry was denied by Lee Woon-Jae in a
one-on-one with the goalkeeper, then Zidane picked up a needless booking that
will see him miss the next game too.
France launched a series of frenetic attacks, but to no avail, and their cause
now looks a desperate one.