Hwang weaves Korean magic

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PHILIPPINES’ forward Patrick Reichelt battles for the ball during the AFC Asian Cup Group C men’s football match between South Korea and Philippines at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. AP

AZKALS FALL SHORT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Prolific goal scorer Hwang Ui-jo snatched a second-half winner as South Korea beat Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Philippine Azkals, 1-0, in the Asian Cup men’s football tournament at the Al Maktoum Stadium Monday.

The Koreans, runners-up to host Australia four years ago, endured a nervous wait for their breakthrough goal against the Asian Cup first-timers

The Koreans, looking to end 59 years of hurt after failing to win the title since 1960, soaked up considerable pressure in their opening Group C fixture before Hwang broke the deadlock after 67 minutes in the United Arab Emirates.

The Japan-based striker swiveled and smashed home from close range to settle his side’s nerves after Newcastle midfielder Ki Sung-yueng limped off with a suspected hamstring injury.

South Korea, which will be boosted by the arrival of Tottenham star Son Heung-min after its first two games, joined China on three points at the top of its group after Marcello Lippi’s side squeezed past Kyrgyzstan 2-1 earlier in the day in Al Ain.

The Koreans, runners-up to host Australia four years ago, endured a nervous wait for their breakthrough goal against the Asian Cup first-timers.

They were indebted to goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu, who plunged to his right to deny Javier Patino in the 54th minute.

But Hwang, whose tournament-high nine goals helped South Korea win last year’s Asian Games title, came to the rescue with a piece of magic in the box and was unlucky not to add further goals as the competition favorite finished strongly.

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