Mexico and South Korea got their quest for an Olympic medal up and running in the basking Newcastle sunshine this afternoon, as they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils in what was in truth, a disappointing Group B opener for Mexico.
The Koreans were the more dominant of the two sides, but with the exception of skipper Koo Jacheol's glancing header, they were restricted to long-range efforts by Tena Luis Fernando's side in a game that never threatened to spring into life.
Mexico came close to snatching all three points in the dying seconds, as second-half substitutes Giovanni dos Santos and Raul Jimenez both spurned glorious opportunities.
The women's competition began yesterday amid sweltering heat, but conditions had cooled down somewhat in the north east today and both sides started tentatively with neither able to assert their superiority in the opening 10 minutes.
It was South Korea, however, which began to on the front foot and had the first attempt on goal through the lively Park Chuyoung after 16 minutes when the Arsenal man's free kick cannoned off the wall and out for a throw.
Lekhwiya SC midfielder Nam Teahee found himself in space soon after, but his long-range effort drifted harmlessly over the bar before half-hearted Korean penalty shouts were waved away when Park Jongwoo was felled in the box.
The Busan Ipark midfielder then blazed an effort over after a Korean corner was only half cleared, before captain Jacheol saw his goal-bound effort blocked by the elbow of Diego Reyes.
Mexico appeared content to defend deep inside its own half, but had restricted Hong Myung Bo's side to only a smattering of corners in a fairly drab opening 45 minutes. The Mexicans finally ventured forward when Miguel Ponce's drive flew narrowly wide four minutes before the break.
Fernando's side appeared to grow in confidence and went close again immediately after, as Hector Herrera unleashed a powerful volley, which was palmed away by Jung Sungryong as a largely uneventful opening 45 minutes came to a close.
It hadn't been the best advert for Olympic football so far, but both sets of fans were doing their best to make St James' Park a familiar cauldron of noise as both teams searched for that elusive opener in the second half.
Just four minutes after the restart, normal service resumed as Kim Bokyung's left-footed effort curled narrowly wide of the upright. Skipper Jaecheol was the next to spurn a great opportunity for the Koreans, as he latched onto Chuyoung's deft flick, but he could only angle his volley the wrong side of the crossbar.
Jose Corona had to be at full alert in the 55th minute, when Ki Sungyeung's fizzing drive stung the fingertips of the Cruz Azul stopper.
It was once again all one-way traffic, but for all of the toil and endeavor, the Koreans couldn't break the deadlock and they nearly paid for it three minutes later when Javier Aquino's powerful drive was beaten away for a corner.
The game was finally beginning to open up and Herrera was booked just shy of the hour mark after he clipped the galloping Bokyung when the Cerezo Osaka man burst through on the break. Mexico's goal was living a charmed life and Teahee was next to try his luck, when he cut inside in the 64th minute and sent a dipping right-footed effort agonizingly wide.
The longer the game went on, it looked as though just one goal would win it and predictably, it was Mexico which would twist first when Spurs forward Dos Santos was thrown on in place of the largely ineffective Oribe Peralta to try and snatch the victory.
Within just minutes of his introduction, the Korean defense were left back pedaling as the 23-year-old drove forward and his shot was deflected wide. From the ensuing corner, Mexico should have opened the scoring when Marco Fabian swung wildly at a loose ball from just seven yards.
It would have been hugely undeserved, but it was probably the best opportunity of the match so far until Korean skipper Jacheol glanced Bokyung's cross wide of the mark when he really should have tested Corona with just 10 minutes remaining.
Mexico had a chance to snatch it right at the death, but Dos Santos' flying volley skewed narrowly wide when he should have scored and then substitute Jimenez clipped the upright when he raced clean through.
Sunderland striker Ji Dongwon was introduced with just four minutes left, but it wasn't to be a fairytale on the ground of his club's fiercest rival as both sides were forced to be content with a goalless draw.
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