Korea Republic beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 in a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on Wednesday, thanks to two goals in the last 15 minutes that ensured the Korea/Japan 2002 semi-finalists moved atop Group Two. The result left Saudi Arabia in fourth spot in the group on four points after Iran drew 1-1 with the winless United Arab Emirates in the earlier game. The Iranians stand two points adrift of the Koreans on five points.
The two group winners and runners-up in these Asian qualifiers will claim automatic berths for the South Africa 2010 finals while the third-placed teams will play each other home-and-away with the winner advancing to the inter-confederation play-off with New Zealand.
Saudi Arabia played the final 32 minutes with ten men after Naif Hazazi received a second yellow card for diving. The Koreans, who have played in the last six finals, took full advantage and proceeded to dominate possession.
The pressure told and Lee Keun Ho scored the first goal in the 77th minute, rounding off a move that saw the ball passed all around the park.
Saudi coach Nasser al-Johar brought on some replacements to chase an equaliser and the home side had two glorious chances in the final two minutes of regulation time. But Saudi hopes were buried when AS Monaco striker Park Chu Young rattled in a second one minute into injury time of the second-half after catching the hosts on the counter-attack.
"We prepared very well for the match because we believed it would be a tough game," said South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo. "We did not play in our usual style, especially in the first half, but after we scored the opener we regained our confidence and produced a good performance."
Al Johar admitted Hazizi's red card had been the turning point.
"It changed everything as we lost a good player and a chance to take the lead," said the Saudi coach. "I hope that the AFC will review the referee's decision but as far as the match is concerned, I congratulate the Koreans for their victory. "I am very sad at losing this important match on home soil but it is not fair to say that we are out of the running for a place in the 2010 World Cup finals."