The Socceroos were able to come from a goal down to triumph over the hosts, thanks to first international strikes from Rukavytsya and Cornthwaite
|By JAMES RANSON
Australia have clawed their way back to defeat South Korea 2-1 in Wednesday's international friendly in Hwaseong.
Robert Cornthwaite poked home the winner with two minutes to play after Nikita Rukavytsya had cancelled out Lee Dong-Gook's sweet volley just a minute before half-time.
After a poor start, the Socceroos slowly worked their way into the game, with Archie Thompson, Tommy Oar and in particular Rukavytsya the orchestrators of much of their good work.
The loss was South Korea's first on home soil in 27 matches, since they were defeated by Iran in September 2010.
With neither in World Cup qualifying action, the friendly provided both nations the opportunity to field experimental line-ups.
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck handed debuts to four players - Aziz Behich, Tom Rogic, Eli Babalj and Matthew Leckie - off the bench.
Behich came on just before the hour mark, slotting in at left-back for Michael Thwaite, while Rogic was handed a 22-minute cameo in the middle of the park.
Oar produced Australia's first genuine chance in just the fourth minute, flashing wide from just inside the box.
But South Korea soon seized the initiative with the home side's flowing play, making the Socceroos look decidedly off pace.
Lee Seung-Ki found a pocket of space on the left and stood up a delightful ball for former Middlesbrough striker Lee, who volleyed home unchallenged with impeccable technique to give South Korea the lead on 12 minutes.
Just five minutes later, the lively Jin-sung Hwang saw his free kick drift inches over the bar following a slight deflection, and within moments, the captain Dae-Song Ha had Mark Schwarzer sprawling across to thwart his fierce shot from long range.
The Socceroos continued to lack any real impetus, with aimless balls and a midfield slightly off the pace the main causes.
Rukavytsya soon changed all that with a couple of well-worked chances, including the equaliser.
The Mainz attacker first saw his stinging shot glance inches wide of the post after cutting inside past two opponents.
That appeared to awaken the visitors, who found the equaliser through Rukavytsya just a minute before the interval.
Oar darted in from the left and found Rukavytsya on the edge of the area, who, after a neat touch, turned onto his left foot and slotted across the goalkeeper for his first international goal.
Both sides nullified one another in the early stages of the second half, with few clear-cut chances.
Osieck introduced his first substitute in the 57th minute, with Melbourne Heart left-back Behich coming on for the ailing Carl Valeri.
Thwaite moved to the midfield while Cornthwaite continued to partner Lucas Neill in the heart of defence in just his second international.
Australia started to look the more likely to find a winner, with Neill and Rogic trying their luck.
Neill directed a header on target from a deep free kick but Young-kwang Kim was good enough to parry it wide on 73 minutes.
Goalscorer Lee could get the same purchase on a rather tame volley a couple of minutes later, before Rogic produced a double chance for Australia.
The Central Coast Mariner scuffed a shot while open deep in the box and then fired a more hopeful effort after a surging run through midfield.
The visitors' endeavour finally paid off when Cornthwaite tapped in from a goalmouth scramble.
Oar delivered a long free kick and, after Babalj steered his strike off the post from close range, the grateful Cornthwaite was best placed to trickle the ball over the line for the winner.