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South Korea edges North in qualifier

SOUTH Korea beat North Korea 1-0 with a late goal yesterday in a World Cup qualifier in Seoul.

With the win South Korea leap-frogged North Korea to take top spot in Asia's Group 2. North Korea is trying for its first World Cup finals since its surprise run to the final eight in 1966.

South Korea's goal came in the 87th minute when a left-footed free-kick from substitute Kim Chi-woo slid off the hands of North Korean keeper Ri Myong-guk into the net.

South dominated play but failed to break through despite numerous chances including two close-range shots from Lee Keun-ho.

Prior to the game, South Korea's coach said he would like to see both Koreas advance for the first time together to the World Cup finals, which will be played in South Africa next year.

It was South Korea's first win over its northern rival in the last five matches.

There was little evidence of recent political tensions off the pitch in a good-natured match more entertaining than the four recent derby clashes. The South Korean fans stood for the anthem of rival North Korea prior to the start of the game at Seoul's World Cup Stadium and politely cheered the opposing side.

In Sydney, Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell scored second-half goals to put Australia on the cusp of securing a World Cup spot with a 2-0 win over Uzbekistan.

West Ham defender Lucas Neill led the Socceroos in the wet conditions at Stadium Australia and said the win "was massive."

"Another clean sheet. It was a rusty first half, but second half, the boys put a lot of pressure on and we got what we deserved," he said. "It was brilliant. There was a lot of pressure on today's game.

"Possibly, we might be the first team to qualify for the World Cup. We're almost there."

Kennedy, a tall forward with German club Karlsruhe, scored six minutes after coming on to replace Celtic striker Scott McDonald.

The 26-year-old Kennedy directed a header inside the near post from Mark Bresciano's powerful cross from the right edge of the area in the 66th minute to break the deadlock.

It was his sixth goal in 12 matches for Australia.

Ex-Liverpool winger Kewell drove a left-foot penalty kick low and hard into the bottom right corner of the net to seal the win in the 73rd minute after Hull City midfielder Richard Garcia was felled in a rough challenge inside the area.

"About time I did something!" the Galatasary forward joked.

Kewell's powerful left-foot volley earlier in the half rebounded off the back of a defender.

"It was all about the result tonight. We worked hard together and we got the result we needed," Kewell said. "We're not fully there yet. We're 70 percent there.

"We've got three games left. We're going to look to win all of them.

"It was a great header by Josh to get us going."

It was Australia's fourth win in five matches in the last full round of Asian qualifying and the fifth straight clean sheet for goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

The Australians lead the group with 13 points, two clear of Japan.


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