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South Korea eke out win over Azkals

Taeguk Warriors given a tough time by Eriksson's Philippines, who are making their Asian Cup debut

For 66 minutes, South Korea huffed and puffed, but just could not find a way past a spirited Philippines side, who are making their Asian Cup debut.

The breakthrough eventually came from Hwang Ui Jo.

GROUP C
SOUTH KOREA PHILIPPINES
1 0

In the 67th minute, the Gamba Osaka striker received a cut-back in the box and showed composure before firing it past Philippines goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard.

World No. 53 South Korea had come close to scoring several times against their 116th-ranked opponents, but just lacked a cutting edge in front of goal, much to the dismay of coach Paulo Bento.

They sorely missed their talismanic EPL forward Son Heung Min, who will join up with the squad only after Tottenham Hotspur's league match against Manchester United next Monday morning (Singapore time).

The Taeguk Warriors did have the services of Newcastle United midfielder Ki Sung Yueng, who had to come off in the second half due to injury.

The Philippines, meanwhile, had Falkesgaard in goal instead of Cardiff City's Neil Etheridge, who had opted to stay and help the Bluebirds steer clear of the EPL's relegation zone.

The South-east Asian side defended stoutly against the Asian giants and threatened on the break, with the likes of Javier Patino, Patrick Reichelt and Stephan Schrock causing problems with their pace and panache.

But they had no answer to Hwang's goal and will be hoping for better luck when they face Marcello Lippi's China on Friday.

China had needed a spectacular goalkeeping blunder to avoid a humiliating defeat in an earlier Group C match yesterday, as they came from behind to pip minnows Kyrgyzstan 2-1.

The Central Asians, ranked 91st in the world and playing their first major tournament, bossed the first half and deservedly led 1-0 at the break after Akhlidin Israilov's rasping strike.

But panicky Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Pavel Matiash committed a howler when he palmed the ball into his own net shortly after half-time, before Beijing Guoan forward Yu Dabao grabbed the winner 12 minutes before the end.

It spared China's blushes against a team of players who ply their trade in leagues as diverse as Bangladesh and the Turkish amateur ranks, while both Matiash and Israilov are clubless, reported AFP.

YESTERDAY'S OTHER MATCHES

GROUP B

  • Syria 0 Palestine 0

GROUP C

  • China 2 Kyrgyzstan 1

TODAY'S MATCHES

GROUP D

  • Iraq v Vietnam (9.30pm)

GROUP E

  • Saudi Arabia v North Korea (11.55pm)
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