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(2nd LD) S. Korea get scoreless draw vs. Lebanon in World Cup qualifier behind closed doors

2018 World Cup Russia 02:13 November 15, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES group standings in para 6)

BEIRUT, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea were held to a scoreless draw by Lebanon in a World Cup qualifying match behind closed doors in Beirut on Thursday.

The contest between 39th-ranked South Korea and 91st-ranked Lebanon at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium was off-limits for spectators. Hours before the 3 p.m. (local time) kickoff, the two football associations agreed to keep the doors closed for safety reasons, amid anti-government protests that have been raging across Lebanon since mid-October.

Son Heung-min of South Korea (R) tries to dribble past Lebanese goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil during the teams' Group H match in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut on Nov. 14, 2019. (Yonhap)

This was the second straight scoreless draw for South Korea in Group H in the second round of the Asian qualifying series for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. On Oct. 15, South Korea and North Korea played to a 0-0 draw in Pyongyang.

And this was also the second consecutive away match for South Korea played behind closed doors. North Korea kept spectators and international media away from the inter-Korean clash at Kim Il-sung Stadium last month, without having any prior consultation or reaching an agreement with South Korea.

The draw kept South Korea at the top of Group H with eight points from two wins and two draws.

North Korea entered Thursday's qualifier against Turkmenistan with seven points, trailing South Korea on goal difference, and lost that match in Ashgabat 3-1 to stay at seven points, now one behind South Korea. Lebanon also have seven points, and they now occupy second place ahead of North Korea because of superior goal difference, plus-2 to plus-1. Turkmenistan are another point back with six after Thursday's win.

From the second round, the eight group winners and four-best runners-up will advance to the third round.

South Korea are trying to qualify for their 10th consecutive World Cup.

This was South Korea's final World Cup qualifier of 2019. Their next match will be against Turkmenistan at home in March next year.

Hwang Ui-jo of South Korea (C) is denied by Lebanese goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil during the teams' Group H match in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut on Nov. 14, 2019. (Yonhap)

Hwang Ui-jo opened the match as the South Korean striker, flanked by captain Son Heung-min on the left and Lee Jae-sung on the right wings.

Jung Woo-young, Nam Tae-hee and Hwang In-beom handled midfield duties. Kim Jin-su and Lee Yong were the fullbacks on left and right, with Kim Min-jae and Kim Young-gwon reprised their roles as centerbacks in front of goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu.

South Korea had trouble getting past the Lebanese defensive wall early on, though Lee Jae-sung fired the opening salvo from near the arc in the eighth minute.

Lebanon responded in the next minute with Rabih Ataya's mid-range shot that Kim Seung-gyu turned aside at the last second.

Hwang In-beom missed the target on a couple of chances midway through the first half, and Bassel Jradi tested Kim in the South Korean net in the 28th minute.

Hwang Ui-jo had a one-on-one on goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil, only to shoot it right at him in the 34th minute.

Hwang Hee-chan came off the bench to replace Hwang In-beom at the start of the second half. And eight minutes into the latter half, Hwang Hee-chan fed Hwang Ui-jo for a chance on the left side, with Khalil coming up with a huge save.

This match wasn't meant to be for Hwang Ui-jo, who rattled the right goal post with a header in the 66th minute.

South Korea continued to dominate the possession and had six minutes of added time in which to eke out a goal, but settled for one point from the tough away match.

South Korea have nine wins, three draws and one loss against Lebanon, but they haven't won in Beiruit since 1993. The last four meetings in the Lebanese capital have resulted in three draws and one loss for South Korea.

With security concerns and inadequate training facilities in Beirut, South Korea head coach Paulo Bento decided to run practices in Abu Dhabi and the team only arrived in Lebanon on the eve of the match.

Players on both sides had difficulty connecting on passes on the rough pitch at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium. Maintaining control of the ball on dribbles was a challenge, too.

But South Korea kept attempting in vain to make plays on the ground, rather than sending crosses and establishing the aerial attack. By the time the towering striker Kim Shin-wook entered the match in the 64th minute, fullbacks and wingers had wasted much of their energy trying to make passes on the sub-par field, and they failed to put pressure on defense.

A World Cup qualifying match between South Korea (in white) and Lebanon took place behind closed doors at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut on Nov. 14, 2019. (Yonhap)


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