A 2-0 win against the United Arab Emirates here Saturday ensured South Korea a ticket to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Park Chu Young opened South Korea’s account in the fifth minute and Ki Sung-Yeung benefited from a comical error by the goalkeeper in the 37th minute to seal the issue and send his team to the finals for the eighth time.
The result lifted the Taeguk Warriors into the lead in Asian Group B with 14 points from six matches with their remaining two qualifiers at home.
North Korea were held to a goalless draw by Iran earlier Saturday and that placed second on 11 points from seven matches.
South Korea manager Huh Jung-Moo said: “Our first objective was to win this match and I am happy we managed to do that.
“We now have two home games left, so we can play them free of any worries and perhaps try a thing or two.”
UAE manager Dominique Bathenay said: “We knew South Korea will be very tough opponents, and it does not help that all our best strikers where out of the match. We just did not create any scoring opportunity.”
The UAE, missing star striker Ismail Mattar, also lost their second-best striker when Faisal Khalil was ruled out after he tore an ankle muscle during the 7-2 loss in Tuesday’s friendly to Germany.
And to make matters worse, striker Esmail Al Hammadi limped off the field after just four minutes when he hurt his knee in a fall.
Park Chu-young chested a Lee Chung-yong pass inside the area and toed it past goalkeeper Majed Nasser, who was committed to diving on the wrong side.
Nasser’s eagerness to prevent a corner kick resulted in the second goal.
Defender Mohammad Qasim chested a ball which was headed out of play but the UAE goalkeeper made a desperate dive to bring it into play.
He did that, but straight into the feet of Ki Sung-yueng, who was only happy to tap it into the empty net.
UAE made a few good moves in the dying minutes after the visitors were reduced to 10 men following two yellow cards to midfielder Kim Jung-woo in the 61st minute.
Parity was restored, as far as men on the field is concerned, on the 86th minute when UAE’s Hilal Saeed was shown the red card for his wild tackle of Ki Sung-yueng.
The home side’s best effort came in the third minute of extra time when goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae had to make a diving deflection to keep a Mohammed Al Shehi from getting in.
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