Korean Republic have cruised into their first Asian Cup final since 1988. The Koreans overcame some early nerves to dispose of their less fancied rivals Iraq.
In front of a raucous 36,053 strong crowd on a wet Monday in Sydney, the Taeguk Warriors appeared to be letting the pressure of the occasion get to them. More than once the Koreans were dispossessed at the back while dwelling on the ball, no doubt causing heart palpitations for their managers Stielike.
But the early pressing from Iraq’s Saad Abdulameer and Alaa Abdulzehra subsided after some threatening counters from Son, Heung Min. The conservative measures couldn’t spare the Iraqis though, as Lee, Jeong Hyeop headed hard and low to make it 1-0 in the 20th minute.
The Koreans were on a roll from that point on, and a theme for the half was the sight of Younis Mahmoud’s frustrated body language, remonstrating every time he was denied possession.
Kim, Young Gwon gave the Koreans a 2 goal buffer early in the second half, after a ball was chested into his path by a teammate. The Guangzhou Evergrande defender picking up a rare goal.
With Iraq forced to take more risks that match played out with Bundesliga star Son, Heung Min making a number of slalom runs through midfield, giving his final opponents more warning of his potential.
The final score of 2-0 meaning the Koreans remain undefeated and still yet to be scored against in the Asian Cup so far. The Taeguk Warriors now stay on in Sydney as Australia and United Arab Emirates play off in Newcastle for the other finals berth.