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MD5 - Group H: Lebanon 0-0 Korea Republic

Beirut: Korea Republic dropped points for the second successive match as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Lebanon in a closely contested FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers Group H encounter in Beirut.

Following on from their Matchday Four stalemate with DPR Korea in Pyongyang, Paulo Bento’s charges were unable to find a way past a resolute Lebanon defence and impressive host goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil, although the result has left them one point clear at the summit.

The draw, meanwhile, has lifted Lebanon to second and left them hot on the heels of their table-topping opponents who will now not be in action again until March’s home game against Turkmenistan.

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Both sides made bright starts to the game played behind closed doors due to safety reasons at the Sports City Stadium, with Lee Jae-sung firing narrowly wide of the Lebanon target on eight minutes and Rabih Ataya bringing a fine save out of Korea Republic goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu shortly after.

Hwang In-beom then blasted an angled drive over the bar after being superbly found by Korea Republic captain Son Heung-min, before a Bassel Jradi free-kick from fully 30 yards saw Kim Seung-gyu make another fine stop on the half-hour mark.

Moments later, Hwang Ui-jo was superbly foiled by 2019 AFC Cup winner Khalil, while Tottenham Hotspur ace Son had a fiercely struck goalbound effort deflected over the bar.

As half-time approached, Lebanon came close to making the breakthrough, captain Hassan Maatouk’s curling free-kick avoiding everyone only to flash inches past Kim Seung-gyu’s far post.

In the opening moments of the second period, Khalil reacted well to deny Hwang and Son in quick succession, only for Hwang to then thump a 67th minute header from Son’s free-kick against the bar.

Try as they may, Korea Republic rarely threatened after that and, with genuine chances few and far between, both sides were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

Lebanon will be back in action on Tuesday when they host DPR Korea as Korea Republic await a return to Asian Qualifiers action on Matchday Seven.

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