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S. Korea defeat Jordan to move closer to Olympic men's football berth

South Korea got past Jordan 2-1 on Sunday to move within one victory of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic men's football tournament.

Midfielder Lee Dong-gyeong scored a gorgeous free kick to break a 1-1 tie in the dying seconds, giving South Korea a narrow win in the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship at Thammasat Stadium in Rangsit, Thailand.


This AFC event is also the qualifying competition for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with the top three nations here advancing to the quadrennial competition. South Korea are chasing their ninth straight appearance in the Olympics.

Forward Cho Gue-sung opened the scoring for South Korea in the first half with his second goal of the tournament. Jordan got a second-half equalizer from Yazan Al-Naimat but they came within seconds of forcing extra time.

South Korea will face Australia in the semifinals on Wednesday, back at Thammasat Stadium. The kickoff is 8:15 p.m. local time, and 10:15 p.m. in Seoul.

A win there will send South Korea to the Tokyo Olympics. A loss will relegate them to the third-place match, where South Korea would be in a must-win situation against the other semifinals loser.

Before the South Korea-Australia tilt on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia will play either the United Arab Emirates or Uzbekistan in the semifinals.

Cho put South Korea on the board with his 16th-minute header, following some chaotic goalmouth scramble. Lee Dong-jun bumped into goalkeeper Abdallah Al-Fakhouri as he tried to head home a Jeong Tae-wook pass. With Al-Fakhouri caught out of position after the collision, Cho had a wide open net in front of him, and the forward won the aerial battle against Ward Al-Barri to give South Korea a 1-0 lead.

Cho, who'd scored once against Iran in the second group match last Sunday, had a couple of chances late in the first half to double that lead. In the 35th, Cho volleyed a Kim Dae-won cross right at Al-Fakhouri. About five minutes later, Cho received a pretty diagonal pass from Lee Dong-jun and found himself in alone on Al-Fakhouri, but ended up airmailing the shot with his left foot.

Other than Omar Hani's shot that went straight into the arms of Song Bum-keun, Jordan didn't generate any dangerous scoring chances. South Korea outshot Jordan 6-1 in the opening 45 minutes.

South Korea pressed hard for an insurance goal in the second half. Kim Jin-kyu hit the right post with a free kick in the 52nd minute, and Kim Jin-ya rang one off the left post from close range in the 69th.

Jordan made South Korea pay for those close calls, as they evened the score in the 75th minute.

Mohammad Bani Atieh's shot attempt from outside the box landed on the feet of Yazan Al-Naimat, who turned and rolled the ball into the bottom left corner.

Cho had an open chance at the net in the 81st minute thanks to a nifty Lee Dong-gyeong setup, but Al-Fakhouri was up for the challenge with a kick save.

Al-Fakhouri made a desperate save in the 89th minute, when he got a piece of a hard shot by Kim Dae-won to keep it out of the net.

Just when extra time seemed inevitable, Lee Dong-gyeong drew a foul from Ibrahim Sadeh just outside the box. Lee then took the free kick himself and curled it just inside the right post for the dramatic go-ahead goal. (Yonhap)