PALEMBANG, Indonesia, July 28 (Reuters) - South Korea overcame fierce rivals Japan 6-5 in a penalty shootout to win a tempestuous Asian Cup third-place playoff on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae blocked Japan's sixth kick from
Naotake Hanyu to give the Koreans a place in the 2011 Asian Cup
A bad-tempered game had finished 0-0 after extra time with
South Korea hanging on for dear life and having gone almost
seven hours since their last goal in the tournament.
The 2002 World Cup semi-finalists battled courageously
against their old rivals and co-hosts of the 2002 World Cup,
following defender Kang Min-soo's dismissal for picking up his
second yellow card in the 57th minute.
South Korea's Dutch coach Pim Verbeek and two of his
assistants were then ordered to follow Kang down the tunnel for
protesting furiously at the referee's decision.
Both sets of players squared off at the end of the first
period of extra time after South Korea's Lee Chun-soo appeared
to be bumped off the ball by Shunsuke Namakura.
Lee Woon-jae and rival goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi
struggled to restore order as the pushing and shoving continued
under the gaze of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Japan substitute Hisato Sato came closest to breaking the
deadlock in extra time but his near-post effort was brilliantly
kept out by Lee.
But the Koreans, who were missing English Premier League
players such as Park Ji-sung, Seol Ki-hyeon and Lee Young-pyo,
clung on for their third straight penalty shootout.
Lee Woon-jae, christened 'Spider Hands' after South Korea's
2002 World Cup quarter-final shootout victory over Spain, was
the hero once again after keeping out Hanyu's well-struck shot.
South Korea had been knocked out of the Asian Cup on
penalties by Iraq in the semi-finals while Japan's bid for a
third straight title ended in a 3-2 defeat by Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis face Iraq in Sunday's final in Jakarta.