Football: South Korea bounce back with 1-0 Lebanon win

Kwon Chang-hoon celebrates after scoring for South Korea.
Kwon Chang-hoon celebrates after scoring for South Korea.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea got their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track on Tuesday (Sept 7), beating Lebanon 1-0 in Suwon.

Aiming for a 10th successive World Cup appearance, South Korea needed to rebound from an opening goalless draw against Iraq last week.

But just hours before the match, the Korea Football Association announced that the side's star and captain Son Heung-min was out with a calf injury.

The first half ended 0-0, mostly thanks to Lebanese goalkeeper Mostafa Matar, who turned in a shift to repeatedly deny Korean attackers.

But on the hour mark, Kwon Chang-hoon - substituted on just two minutes earlier - exploited space in the box to put the hosts ahead.

Lebanon almost equalised in the dying moments, but their attack was cleared by Korean midfielder Son Jun-ho.

"I'm happy to have scored a goal for the national team, and honoured to have done it at the Big Bird," Kwon told reporters, referring to the Suwon World Cup Stadium, where his club is based.

There are two groups of six nations in the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

South Korea and Lebanon are joined in Group A by Iran, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Iraq.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the World Cup, and the third-placed sides will face off for a chance to enter the intercontinental play-off.

South Korea will play Syria at home on Oct 7, when Lebanon visit Iraq.

On Oct 12, South Korea are scheduled to take on Iran in Tehran, while Lebanon face Syria.