S. Korea blanks Myanmar 4-0 to remain undefeated in World Cup qualifying

November 12, 2015
Koo Ja-cheol (center) and Ji Dong-won (right) of South Korea celebrate Koo's goal in the first half of the team's World Cup qualifier against Myanmar at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 12, 2015. (Yonhap)

Koo Ja-cheol (center) and Ji Dong-won (right) of South Korea celebrate Koo’s goal in the first half of the team’s World Cup qualifier against Myanmar at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 12, 2015. (Yonhap)

SUWON, South Korea (Yonhap) — South Korea beat Myanmar 4-0 on Thursday at home to remain undefeated in the current Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

South Korea scored two goals in each half, improving to a perfect 5-0-0 in Group G in the second round of the Asian World Cup qualification at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. South Korea have netted 18 goals and given up none.

Overall, South Korea haven’t lost in their past 12 matches, dating back to March 27. Their only loss of the year came against Australia at the AFC Asian Cup final in January.

As expected, the 48th-ranked South Korea dominated possession from the opening whistle against the 161st-ranked Myanmar.

The first goal came in the 18th minute, with Lee Jae-sung the beneficiary of a brilliant pass by Ki Sung-yueng from just behind the halfway line.

Lee got behind Kyi Lin on the right side as he received the feed, and his left-foot strike got past the diving goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Phyo for his second career goal against Myanmar.

South Korea missed a chance to double the lead five minutes later, when Jang Hyun-soo missed a penalty.

Hwang Ui-jo was tripped up by Phyo Ko Ko Thein in the box and Jang stepped up for the kick. He aimed the right corner but shot it off the right post.

Koo Ja-cheol buried a header to give South Korea a 2-0 lead at the half-hour mark. Ji Dong-won danced past Thet Naing on the left flank to whip a perfectly-placed cross that Koo, Ji’s FC Augsburg teammate, redirected in for his 16th international goal.

Ki tried to get on the sheet himself with a cannon from midfield in the 33rd, but Kyaw Zin Phyo just got a piece of it to deflect it out of play.

South Korea kept pressing in the second half, but didn’t find the back of the net again until the 82nd minute, when Jang atoned for his missed penalty with a header. Jang became the first South Korean to score after missing a penalty in the same game since Ahn Jung-hwan did so against Italy in the round of 16 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Substitute Son Heung-min curled a free kick from the left of the box and Jang rose to meet it for a three-goal lead.

Son, Tottenham Hotspurs’ star recently recovered from a foot injury, set up South Korea’s next goal four minutes later, flicking one through the defense to find streaking Nam Tae-hee, who calmly struck it past Kyaw Zin Phyo to round out the scoring.

Winning head coach Uli Stielike said he hopes to keep up the positive momentum in the next World Cup qualifiers at Laos on Tuesday.

“Overall, I am satisfied with how we played,” he said. “I think we had close to 90 percent of possession, and we dominated the match.”

Stielike cited “some technical issues” as a reason for the unproductive stretch early in the second half.

“We managed to score in the final 10 minutes, and the last goal (with Son setting up Nam) was a textbook play,” the coach added.