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Asian Cup

  • January 17, 2015
  • • 4:00 AM
  • • Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Referee: Nawaf Shukralla
  • • Attendance: 48513

Australia 0-1 South Korea: Lee fires visitors to top of the table

A 1-0 win was enough to get beyond the tournament host and put Korea at the top of Group A.

South Korea claimed the top spot in Group A of the Asian Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 win over host Australia in Newcastle on Saturday.

Lee Jung-hyub scored the decisive goal just after the half-hour mark at the Suncorp Stadium, meaning South Korea should now face a slightly easier path than Ange Postecoglou's side in the knockout stage.

Australia piled on the pressure after the break in a bid to find an equalizer but was unable to find a way past Kim Jin-hyeon in the South Korea goal and will now likely have to beat tournament favorite Japan if it is to make it all the way to the Asian Cup final.

Questions may be asked of Postecoglou, who opted to rest the first-choice attacking trio of Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse and Matthew Leckie with the hosts' place in the last eight already secure.

The Australia coach threw all three of those players on in the second half, but it was a case of too little, too late. 

Postecoglou's opposite number Uli Stielike also made wholesale changes, leaving star midfielder Son Heung-min on the bench once more.

Some robust Australia challenges throughout the game earned the ire of Stielike, who was forced to withdraw Park Joo-ho in the first half and Koo Ja-cheol early in the second due to head knocks.  

After a cagey opening quarter of an hour, South Korea had the first clear-cut chance of the match, but Kwak Tae-hwi sent his shot wide of the target.

Australia hit back with two chances in quick succession, but neither Tomi Juric nor Nathan Burns could beat Kim Chang-soo after creating space for themselves.

And it was Lee who broke the deadlock soon after, when he angled Lee Keun-ho's cross past Mat Ryan after the forward had been released by a delightful pass from captain Ki Sung-yeung.

The feistiness of the encounter went up a notch after halftime, with tensions threatening to boil over on several occasions.

South Korea was happy to sit on its lead, inviting pressure from Australia. Jacob Burns almost found a way through when he went on a winding run through the visitors' defense, only to be thwarted by an excellent Kim save.

Kim was in excellent form, and not even the introductions of Cahill, Kruse and Leckie could force an equalizer as South Korea sealed its third 1-0 win from three Group A games.