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Paraguay pip N Korea

Santa Cruzs 86th minute strike spares Latin Americans the blushes
Last Updated : 16 May 2010, 17:59 IST
Last Updated : 16 May 2010, 17:59 IST

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North Korea defended tenaciously and showed tactical discipline and flashes of skill in attack as they came within four minutes of forcing a second successive goalless draw following last month's 0-0 stalemate with South Africa.

The team from the hermit state, backed by about 20 flag-waving compatriots in the stands, lived up to their reclusive reputation as they refused to attend the post-match news conference.

Striker Roque Santa Cruz saved Paraguay's blushes by scoring an 86th-minute penalty given away by Nam Song-chol who, under no pressure from an opponent, used his hand to control a pass in a moment of naivete.

North Korea coach Kim Jong-Hun has given little away about tactics but it seemed clear on Saturday they will try to frustrate first-round World Cup opponents Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal.

Although their defence was well-organised and hard-working, they often looked lightweight in direct physical challenges.

They also had difficulty playing their way out of defence, with goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk repeatedly pumping long kicks into the Paraguay half.

"They defend very well, create a lot of complications and are very fast on the counter-attack," said Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino, whose team have reached their fourth successive World Cup.

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Published 16 May 2010, 17:59 IST

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