Saturday, 09 June 2012 07:49
AFC - Ulsan Hyundai trio Lee Keun-ho, Kwak Tae-hwi and Kim Shin-wook scored as Korea Republic came from behind to open their final round qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals with a 4-1 win over Qatar on Friday.
Yusef Ahmed’s strike midway through the first half had put 2022 hosts Qatar ahead only for Lee Keun-ho’s header to quickly restore parity for Korea before half-time at Al Sadd Stadium.
And in the second half Kwak Tae-hwi and substitute Kim Shin-wook with his first international goal struck in the space of nine minutes before Lee Keun-ho’s second ensured AFC Asian Cup third place finishers Korea made the ideal start to their campaign in Group A ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Lebanon to Goyang.
“We expected a harder match especially because the weather was hot and we were playing away. This caused us to be a little unbalanced in the beginning but we managed to make a good comeback in the second period and scored three goals,” said Korea coach Choi Kang-hee.
“After Qatar took the lead, we tried to force more attacking players to go up towards the goal. We watched Qatar’s match against Lebanon and we expected them to give us a harder match.”
Korea slowly found their feet at the start of the contest, but after 22 minutes Ahmed surged down the left wing and outmuscled Kwak to burst into the penalty area before the Al Sadd striker beat goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong at his near post.
Korea, though, instantly responded as Lee Keun-ho beat Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan to Kim Bo-kyung’s clever chipped cross and the Ulsan Hyundai striker’s close range header crashed into the back of the Qatar net just four minutes after Ahmed’s strike.
And after being at fault for Qatar’s opening goal, Kwak made amends five minutes before the hour mark as he was the first to meet Kim Bo-kyung’s right wing corner and his glancing header looped into the opposite corner with goalkeeper Burhan already committed and out of position.
Substitute Kim Shin-wook, who was introduced prior to the corner which led to Korea’s second, doubled the advantage nine minutes later as Lee Dong-gook laid the ball off on the edge of the Qatar area and the striker produced an emphatic first time finish.
And with 10 minutes remaining another corner from Kim Bo-kyung skipped through the Qatar six-yard area and Lee Keun-ho made no mistake with an unmarked downward header.
“I would like to say to my players to forget this match and focus on Iran and continue to work hard. In football you can be winner and you can be a loser,” said Qatar coach Paulo Autuori, who takes his side to Tehran on Tuesday after beginning their campaign with a 1-0 win in Lebanon last weekend.
“We were very well organised in the first half and we did a good job, but we didn't play in the second half.
“We made a mistake for the second goal and that put us down mentally. We played a good short game, but we are suffering from having to play three games in such a short time.
“We now have to show that we are mentally strong after this defeat. We have lost three points, but we need to understand we are moving up and we are improving. We have to learn from our mistakes and we cannot be afraid. We need to fight and this is a big challenge for us.”