Lee Jae-sung and Son Heung-min found the target as South Korea defeated Myanmar 2-0 to make a winning start to 2018 World Cup qualifying.
South Korea were beaten 2-1 by Australia in the final of the Asian Cup this year, and are bidding to bounce back by reaching their ninth consecutive World Cup in Russia in three years’ time.
Lee struck a late winner in a 1-0 friendly victory over New Zealand back in March, and the Jeonbuk Motors man had a telling impact once again here with a free header from a corner in the first half.
He nodded home after Myanmar goalkeeper Van Lal Hruai had failed to collect Son’s delivery from the left-hand side.
Midway through the second half, Son benefitted directly from more poor goalkeeping as his well-struck free-kick from 30 yards sailed straight through the hands of Hruai and into the roof of the net.
In front of a sparse crowd in Bangkok – after Myanmar were banned from playing on home soil due to crowd misbehaviour in a World Cup qualifier in 2011 – the result sees South Korea get off to a solid start in Group G.
For the world’s number 143-ranked side Myanmar, however, it was a setback following a 2-2 draw at Laos in their opening fixture.
South Korea had much the better of the opening exchanges, and twice went close in the first 12 minutes.
Jung Woo-young struck the base of the right-hand post with an effort from outside the area and, after Hruai flapped at a cross, Son’s powerful volley was blocked on the line by Win Min Htut.
Myanmar forays into South Korea territory were rare, although away keeper Kim Seung-gyu did have to race from his line and steal the ball away from the feet of Suan Lam Mang midway through the half.
After a period of sustained pressure, the visitors took the lead 10 minutes prior to the interval when Lee took advantage of Hruai’s misjudgment to power Son’s left-wing corner into the net from five yards.
South Korea began the second period as they had ended the first, and Hruai was forced into a save from Son’s effort in the 51st minute.
Their dominance paid off in the 67th minute, as Son lashed in a swerving free-kick which flew past Hruai’s poor attempt to save.
Substitute Lee Yong-jae twice went close to adding a third in the final 10 minutes but a weak finish and then an excellent defensive clearance from Zaw Lin denied Uli Stielike’s side a more convincing margin of victory to reflect their superiority.
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