INCHEON, South Korea (AFP) – Hosts South Korea beat North Korea 1-0 with virtually the last kick of extra time to win a cliff-hanging Asian Games men’s football final on Thursday.
Defender Rim Chang-Woo smashed home a last-gasp winner from close range to deliver the knockout blow in an emotionally charged final, giving South Korea their fourth title and a first since 1986.
When the final whistle blew just moments later the crowd of 47,000 rain-soaked fans erupted with joy, while both sets of players slumped to the wet turf sobbing, having battled each other to a standstill. As a reward for their dramatic and symbolic victory in Incheon, South Korea’s players will be excused two years of mandatory military service.
The home side were fortunate to survive a major scare in normal time when Pak Kwang-Ryong thundered a header against the bar after 75 minutes for the North, who dished out some rough stuff throughout a game played 120 miles (195km) from the world’s most fortified border.
South Korea largely dominated but missed many chances. The scrappy winning goal came from a corner, which Lee Yong-Jae nudged goal-wards and appeared to have crossed the line before Rim made sure with a fierce volley after it dropped to him.
North Korea coach Yun Jong-Su remonstrated furiously with the officials as his players wept uncontrollably and the South celebrated wildly.
The countries remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.