Skipper Son steers Korea Republic to win
Daegu: Korea Republic defeated Honduras 2-0 in a pre-2018 FIFA World Cup Russia friendly match in Daegu on Monday, with Tottenham Hotspur attacker Son Heung-min delivering a picture-perfect opener in the second half.
Son broke the scoreless deadlock near the hour mark at Daegu Stadium, some 300 kilometres southeast of Seoul, firing a shot off his left foot from just outside the top of the circle. Then substitute Moon Seon-min, in his international debut, netted the insurance goal in the 71st.
This was the first of two tune-up matches for the FIFA World Cup-bound Korea Republic. They'll next face Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday in Jeonju, before head coach Shin Tae-yong whittles down his training camp roster of 26 to the squad of 23.
Korea Republic extended their undefeated home streak to 16 matches, with 13 wins and three draws, a run that dates back to March 2015.
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On top of scoring the goal, Son also served as captain for the first time, as he started alongside Hwang Hee-chan as the two featured strikers.
With usual captain Ki Sung-yueng sidelined with back issues, Ju Se-jong got the nod in central midfield next to Jung Woo-young. And Lee Seung-woo, a 20-year-old FC Barcelona youth product, made his first international appearance as the left winger, opposite Crystal Palace veteran Lee Chung-yong.
Hong Chul and Go Yo-han, a pair of K Leaguers, started as the full-backs, flanking centre-backs Kim Young-gwon and Jeong Seung-hyeon.
Jo Hyeon-woo, who plays for Daegu-based Daegu FC in the K League 1, started between the posts for the hosts.
Korea Republic dominated the ball in the opening half and spent the majority of the first 45 minutes in the Honduran zone.
The first decent chance for Korea Republic came in the 20th minute, when Son received a through ball from Go Yo-han deep in the box but didn't have much of an angle to do much with it.
At the other end, Mario Martinez fired a mid-range shot in the 31st minute after a Korean turnover but sent it well over the net.
Nine minutes later, Hwang Hee-chan redirected a low corner kick for Korea Republic but Donis Escober punched it out of play.
Korea Republic maintained the pressure after the half time break and Son finally gave the 33,000 fans something to cheer about as the clock reached the 60th minute.
Lee, a former Barca prospect with a high offensive upside, made a steal in midfield and set up Son for the thunderous shot.
And another debutante, Moon, made his presence felt in the 71st minute. Hwang did much of the work on the left wing to feed Moon in the box, and the Incheon United midfielder beat defender Ever Alvarado before poking it home past Escober.
Korea Republic will play in Group F at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. They open their campaign against Sweden on June 18 before playing Mexico on June 23 and reigning champions Germany four days later.
Sources: Yonhap, AFP
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