South Korea moves on to quarterfinals

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South Korea moves on to quarterfinals

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Korea’s Son Heung-min scores the team’s fourth goal during their 2011 Asian Cup Group C soccer match against India at Al Gharafa Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]


South Korea hammered India 4-1 to advance to the quarterfinals at the ongoing Asian Cup in Doha, Qatar, and will go on to face an old nemesis this weekend.

Playing under heavy rain at Al Gharafa Stadium Tuesday night, Korean time, South Korea attacked the porous Indian defense with abandon to close out Group C action with a bang. The score would have been more lopsided if not for some spectacular goal tending by India’s Subrata Paul.

South Korea ended the group stage with two wins and a draw, in second place behind Australia. The Socceroos also ended with two wins and a draw, after edging Bahrain 1-0 Wednesday, but they held the goal differential advantage of plus-5 to South Korea’s plus-4, meaning Australia gets the runner-up in Group D, while South Korea gets the winner of the group - Iran.

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Iran has already secured the top spot in Group D after winning its first two games. Iran closes out its group stage on Thursday against the United Arab Emirates. The South Korea-Iran quarterfinal match is set for 1:25 a.m. Sunday, Korean time.

South Korea has not beat Iran in their past six meetings, including a 1-0 loss in a friendly match in Seoul last September.

Against India, forward Ji Dong-won headed in the opening goal just six minutes in to set the tone. Koo Ja-cheol scored his fourth goal of the tournament three minutes later and he is now tied with Ismaeel Abdulatif of Bahrain for the Asian Cup lead in goals.

After Sunil Chhetri got one back for India by converting his own penalty in the 12th minute, Ji had his second of the game in the 23rd. Koo set him up with a perfect pass between three defenders and Ji flicked it over the charging Paul.

The 18-year-old winger Son Heung-min scored his first international goal in the 80th minute after Koo made another pretty pass. Son, playing in his first tournament at the senior level, had blown two earlier scoring chances.

Ji himself missed two chances to complete a hat track, first deflecting a cross wide of the goal and then sailing one over the crossbar with Paul caught out of position.

South Korea missed one final opportunity in the 86th, when Koo’s shot after a scramble went off defender Surkumar Singh and hit the crossbar.

Other than Chhetri’s penalty, India’s only real dangerous chance came in the 87th, when Jung Sung-ryong made a diving save on Chhetri from close range.

To claim first place, South Korea needed to win by at least four goals and have Australia beat Bahrain by a single goal. That would have given South Korea an edge over Australia in goals scored, the fifth tiebreaker for teams with identical records.

The South Korea-Iran showdown will be the fifth straight quarterfinal meeting between the two at the Asian Cup dating back to 1996.


Yonhap

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