South Korea defeated Bahrain 3-1 in their Asian Cup Group E opening on Monday, with Paris St. Germain’s Lee Kang-in scoring twice in the second half.
With the score equal at 1-1 thanks to goals from Hwang In-Beom and Bahrain’s Abdullah Al-Hashsash, Lee cranked up the heat with two devastating strikes that had the South Korean supporters at the tiny 15,000-seat venue ecstatic.
A stop-start game featured many of fouls in the first half, and although the challenges were not malicious, South Korea had three players on yellow cards in the first half hour, including center back Kim Min-Jae.
The Korean supporters had had enough and were booing the referee everytime he kept his cards in his pocket for a Bahraini foul, and the pressure paid off when Ali Madan was booked for a nasty challenge.
Madan was definitely fired up, and he almost broke the stalemate seconds later when he was placed through on goal, but his effort from the top corner just missed the mark.
However, South Korea grabbed the lead after a rapid flowing play down the left flank when the ball was delivered into the box and Hwang curled home through a swarm of Bahrain defenders, two of whom collided while following back.
In the second half, Bahrain came out battling and were rewarded six minutes in when Al-Hashsash got space in the box and slotted home into the bottom corner.
South Korea, however, remained undeterred and regained their lead five minutes later via Lee, who fired from beyond the box and had his stunning attempt loop into the goal.
Soon later, the PSG playmaker doubled his score when he collected the ball inside the area from Hwang, avoided his opponent with fast feet, and curled another drive past the keeper inside the far post.
His second put him tied for the tournament lead with Qatar’s Akram Afif and Japan’s Takumi Minamino.
South Korean captain Son Heung-min had a late chance to score after being released into the area, but his effort went wide. The Tottenham Hotspur striker was also penalized for simulation later in the game while attempting to earn a penalty.