Portugal vs. North Korea: How the World Cup's first goal fest unfolded

We thought Brazil would lay the goals on North Korea, but instead it was their former colonial masters who pounded the Stalinist regime's soccer team 7-0 during today's Portugal vs. North Korea match.

Roberto Candia/AP
North Korea goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk lay on the field after Portugal scored the fourth of its seven goals during Monday's Portugal vs. North Korea game in Cape Town, South Africa.

Portugal arrived at this World Cup with some of the best players in Europe and a team that was less than the sum of its parts. The Iberians finished second in a weak qualifying group and they had to earn a spot via a playoff against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In Cape Town, the Portuguese finally showed the form that they are capable of. They demolished North Korea 7-0 with a sparkling display of crisp passing, fast counterattacks, and clinical finishing.

It was the biggest win of the tournament so far and confirmed Portugal as serious contenders for the title. An added bonus was a goal for Cristiano Ronaldo in the dying moments that ended his two-year goal drought for the national team.

IN PICTURES: Top 10 goals of the first week

It was Raúl Meireles who started the rout in the 29th minute when he ran onto a pass from Tiago Mendes to fire the ball under advancing goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk.

At this point there was no indication of the goalfest to come. North Korea ended the first half down only one goal, and appeared determined and looked capable of coming back.

The second half, though, was a different story. Portugal increased their lead in the 53rd minute and this time Meireles was the provider, threading an angled pass into the path of Simão Sabrosa for the Atletico Madrid striker to slot the ball home.

Three minutes later they grabbed a third goal with a beautiful move down the left wing that culminated with an inch-perfect cross from Fábio Coentrão to the head of Hugo Almeida who nodded the ball past the luckless Ri Myong-Guk.

Just four minutes after that Ronaldo cut the ball back to an on-running Tiago, who side-footed the ball into the net from the edge of the 18-yard box.

And Portugal kept coming.

Meireles and Coentrão were brilliant in pushing forward and Ronaldo always looked dangerous with the ball at his feet.

Meireles put another perfect Ronaldo pass wide and Simão should have done better with just the keeper to beat. Ronaldo himself was unlucky to see a 25-yeard strike ricochet off the top of the bar.

Substitute Liédson made it five in the 81st minute with his first touch of the ball. The Brazilian-born striker seized on a defensive mistake to crash the ball home.

That would have been Portugal’s biggest ever World Cup victory, but they were not finished yet.

Ronaldo got No. 6 in the 87th minute when he was fortunate to see a goalkeeper’s botched clearance fall perfectly for him to knock the rebound into the empty net (see video below). Just two minutes later, Tiago got his second and Portugal’s seventh with a nice glancing header.

It doesn’t get much better than this for coach Carlos Queiroz’s men.

Portugal face the mighty Brazil in their final game but their goal difference now makes them heavy favorites to reach the second round at the expense of the Ivory Coast.

IN PICTURES: Top 10 World Cup players to watch

IN PICTURES: Top 10 goals of the first week

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