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18th-Jan-2015

S Korea surprise Australia to finish top of Group A

By Agency

South Korea upset Australia 1-0 at the Asian Cup to top the Group A standings and secure a potentially easier path to the final while leaving the host nation facing a treacherous route.
Striker Lee Jeong-hyeop's first-half goal gave his team a surprise lead in Brisbane which the Koreans held on to against a wave of Socceroos attacks to clinch the victory.
The win meant South Korea finished at the top of the Group A standings with three wins and will play either Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals. As runners-up in the group, Australia will play the Group B winners China with the defending champions Japan lurking as a possible semi-finalist.
The match had begun in slightly bizarre circumstances when thousands of moths descended on to the stadium field and grandstands, forcing staff to vacuum some of the benches where players and officials were trying to sit.
The Australians dominated possession and territory but paid for squandering their best chances and resting some of their key players, including the former Everton forward Tim Cahill, who only came on for the last 20 minutes when his side were desperate for an equaliser.
The Korean goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon pulled off a series of sharp saves to keep his team ahead and the visitors were unlucky not to grab a second on the counterattack as they raised hopes of winning their first Asian Cup since 1960.
Lee broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when he got his foot on to a perfectly angled cross from Lee Keun-ho. The glance was just enough to divert the ball into the net at the far post, evading the diving Mathew Ryan, the Australian goalkeeper who is reportedly a target for Liverpool.
The Australians raised the tempo in the second half, starving South Korea of possession and pressing for an equaliser. Tomi Juric shot over the bar from close range shortly after the restart after combining with Ivan Franjic.