Korea downs Qatar 4-1 in World Cup qualifier
DOHA, Qatar (AP) - Korea came from a goal down to beat Qatar 4-1 and get its campaign off to a rousing start in Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on Friday.
Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host, appeared poised for an upset when Yousef Ahmad Ali rushed past a defender and fired a shot that ricocheted in off goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong in the 22nd minute.
But the lead was short-lived thanks in part to some shaky defense from Qatar.
An unmarked Lee Keun-ho got the first of his two goals four minutes later when he headed in off a corner. Kwak Tae-hwi put Korea in front with another header in the 55th before Kim Shin-wook connected in the 64th off a pass from Lee Dong-gook to make it 3-1. Lee Keun-ho netted his second in the 80th.
Temperatures in Qatar were well above 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) but the air-conditioned Al Sadd made temperatures on the pitch manageable.
``Coming into the match, I thought it was going to be difficult for us,'' Korea coach Choi Kang-hee said. "There were issues regarding weather, time zone changes. But we got over it in our training sessions quickly.
``It was difficult to lift the tempo in the first half as the heat was affecting both the teams. But we adapted to the situation very well. Now my aim is to get my players to recover quickly and get them ready for the next match.''
Qatar, which had opened its campaign with a promising 1-0 win over Lebanon, must prepare for its match on Tuesday with Iran, which is one of the favorites to advance to the finals.
The top two teams in both of the five-team qualifying groups will secure an automatic spot in Brazil. The third-place teams advance to a playoff.
``The players just need to forget today's game and concentrate about the Iran game,'' Qatar's Brazilian coach Paulo Autuori said.
``We're playing three matches in short spells. It's a big challenge. I think this is still a very good team. We played well in the first half. Mentally, we're still strong to overcome this defeat.''