South Korea paid tribute to World Cup hero Yoo Sang-chul as Paulo Bento’s side secured their place in the next phase of Asia’s qualifying tournament for the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday with a 5-0 win over Sri Lanka in Goyang.
The 10-time World Cup qualifiers moved three points clear of second-placed Lebanon at the top of Group H after the Lebanese slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Turkmenistan earlier in the day.
The results mean Lebanon would have to defeat the Koreans by a nine-goal margin on Sunday to overhaul them at the top of the standings and take an automatic berth in the next round.
South Korea’s 13-point haul, however, is still enough to guarantee them one of five places available in the next round assigned to the best runners-up across the eight groups.
That means the Koreans join Japan and Syria as the only nations to have booked their places in the 12-team third phase.
Kim Shin-wook put the Koreans in front after 15 minutes and led his teammates in a sombre on-field tribute to Yoo, one of the drivers of South Korea’s 2002 run to the World Cup semifinals, who passed away on Monday aged 49 from cancer.
Players gathered at the halfway line to display a No 6 shirt bearing the midfielder’s name.
Lee Dong-gyeong doubled his side’s lead when he swept his 22nd minute effort into the top corner and Kim scored Korea’s third from the penalty spot two minutes before halftime.
Hwang Hee-chan added a fourth in the 53rd minute and debutant Jeong Sang-bin completed the win 13 minutes from time with a close range finish.
Lebanon’s qualification hopes suffered a blow when Jamal Taha’s side were handed an unexpected loss by Turkmenistan.
Zafar Babajanow gave the Central Asians the lead just before the hour mark but two spectacular goals in as many minutes put Lebanon ahead.
Rabih Ataya drove through the Turkmen defence before sliding his low shot home in the 74th minute and Hassan Saad put Lebanon in front with a strike from distance that found the top corner.
With five minutes to go, however, Guychmyrat Annaguliev levelled the scores while Lebanon’s Nour Mansour was sent off and, a minute into injury time, Altymyrat Annadurdyyew hit the winner for Turkmenistan.