South Korea's Kim Tae-hwan passes the ball during the World Cup qualifying match with Sri Lanka. (Yonhap)
Forward Kim Shin-wook had a brace and teen sensation Jeong Sang-bin scored in his international debut, helping South Korea beat up on Sri Lanka 5-0 in a World Cup qualifying match at home on Wednesday.
Hwang Hee-chan and Lee Dong-gyeong had a goal apiece against 10-man Sri Lanka at Goyang Stadium in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, as South Korea remained atop Group H in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
South Korea improved to 13 points from four wins and a draw.
They've scored 20 goals while not giving up any. Lebanon, South Korea's next opponents on Sunday, are in second place at 10 points.
South Korea have virtually locked down the top spot in the group and a berth in the next round. Lebanon would have to beat South Korea by 17 goals on Sunday to win the group on the goal difference tiebreaker.
The eight group winners and four-best runners-up from the second round will advance to the next stage.
Against the 204th-ranked Sri Lanka, South Korea, No. 39, deployed what could best be described as a "B" squad.
Head coach Paulo Bento retained only one player, midfielder Nam Tae-hee, from the starting lineup that hammered Turkmenistan 5-0 last Saturday.
Regulars, such as Son Heung-min and Hwang Ui-jo, were rested, while the 21-year-old forward Song Min-kyu made his senior international debut. Left fullback Lee Ki-je, who came off the bench against Turkmenistan, got his first start for the national team.
Kim, making his first international appearance since November 2019, opened the scoring in the 14th minute, converting a headed pass from Nam.
Eight minutes later, midfielder Lee Dong-gyeong doubled South Korea's lead with his first international goal, set up by a perfect cross by Song.
Kim made it 3-0 South Korea with a 42nd-minute penalty, awarded when forward Hwang Hee-chan was brought down in the box by defender Jude Supan.
Hwang joined the party in the 52nd minute, firing home a loose ball for a 4-0 lead after a botched Sri Lankan clearing attempt of a South Korean free kick.
Sri Lanka went down a man when Asikur Rahuman picked up his second yellow card of the match in the 56th minute, putting an already overmatched team into a deeper hole.
Jeong, the youngest South Korean player at 19, put South Korea up 5-0 in the 76th minute with his first ineternational goal in his first national team match. Jeong, who entered the match in the 71st, redirected a shot by Lee Dong-gyeong while standing in the goalmouth.
Bento said this was "a well-deserved win" for South Korea and praised his players' mindset for the match.
"The guys took the match seriously and respected their opponents," Bento said. "That's why we were able to put on such a strong effort."
Though South Korea are all but guaranteed to advance to the next round, Bento said the team will keep the pedal to the metal against Lebanon on Sunday.
"We'll send our absolute best lineup and try to collect three points," Bento said. "There are a lot of objectives we'd like to accomplish in that match. I think I'll find out more about the team in a match like this. I'll see how hard the guys will play in that game." (Yonhap)