Korea Beats Lebanon, Sweeps 2nd-Round World Cup Qualifiers

      March 25, 2016 10:37

      Lee Jeong-hyeop scored a late goal in stoppage time to give Korea a 1-0 win over Lebanon in Thursday's second-round Asian qualifier for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

      The victory in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, saw Korea conclude the round with a perfect record, winning all seven matches without conceding a single goal.

      Korea plays Thailand away in a friendly on Sunday.

      Korea controlled the game from the opening whistle, but Lebanon’s defense was not easily broken. Lebanon, which needed only a draw to secure a berth in the next qualifying round, used a deep defensive line and took no risks.

      Lee Jeong-hyeop reacts after scoring a goal in Korea's match against Lebanon in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday.

      In the second half, Korean team manager Uli Stielike inserted substitutes Lee, Nam Tae-hee and Suk Hyun-jun to launch a stronger offensive game. The balance finally tipped in the 93rd minute when Ki Sung-yueng penetrated down the left wing and passed to Lee, who calmly converted to secure victory.

      The final round of Asian qualifiers will start in September, with 12 teams divided into two groups playing home and away round-robin matches. Four teams -- the winners and runners-up of the two groups -- will automatically advance to Russia. The third-place finishers will contest a playoff match, with the winner facing the fifth-place finisher in the Latin American qualifiers for the final place.

      The group draw for the final round of Asian qualifiers will be held in Kuala Lumpur on April 12. 

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