Ji Dong-Won grabbed a brace as South Korea outclassed India at a wet Al Gharafa Stadium to set up a mouth-watering Asian Cup quarter-final against Iran.
Koo Ja-Cheol and substitute Son Heung-Min also found the back of the net for South Korea, but Cho Kwang-Rae's men will be left kicking themselves after wasting a hatful of clear-cut chances that condemned them to second place in Group C on goal difference thanks to Australia's 1-0 win over Bahrain.
Their profligacy could prove costly for the Taeguk Warriors with the Socceroos now set for the seemingly easier last-eight tie against Iraq, United Arab Emirates or North Korea.
South Korea took the lead after just six minutes when goalkeeper Paul Subrata could only push Lee Chung-yong's cross into the air and Ji nodded in unchallenged from six yards.
Koo doubled his side's advantage with his fourth goal of the tournament three minutes later when India failed to deal with Cha Du-Ri's ball in from the right and Ji cushioned a cute header into the path of the striker, who rounded Subrata.
India halved the deficit in the 12th minute when Kwak Tae-Hwi brought down Sunil Chhetri in the box as they contested a long ball and the forward sent Jung Sung-Ryong the wrong way from the spot.
Kwak saw a header from Ki Sung-Yeung's corner cleared off the line before South Korea restored their two-goal advantage in the 23rd minute with a beautifully-worked effort.
Koo held off an Indian defender on the edge of the area before playing a delightful reverse ball that freed Ji and he coolly lifted the ball over the advancing Subrata.
The striker was then left wondering how he did not complete his hat-trick 10 minutes before half-time.
Subrata let Ki's corner slip through his hands and the ball fell to Ji six yards out. His initial shot was blocked by Syed Rahim Nabi and his follow-up struck the same player lying prone on the floor. The frontman's third effort was then headed off the line by Surkumar Singh from close range.
Subrata denied Son with an outstretched leg before the substitute came agonisingly close to South Korea's fourth goal in the 64th minute when Lee's low cross reached the forward at the far post, but his first-time effort struck the upright and was cleared.
From the subsequent corner, Deepak Kumar Mandal cleared Hwang Jae-Won's header off the line.
Ji lifted a shot over the bar from 12 yards with Subrata out of position before Son finally claimed South Korea's fourth goal with nine minutes to go when he rifled home via the underside of the bar after collecting Koo's pass on the left side of the box.
There was still time for Son to hit the bar before Chhetri brought a smart double save out of Jung in a rare India foray forward.
South Korea coach Cho Kwang-Rae is relishing the prospect of his side's Asian Cup quarter-final tie with Iran despite their profligacy in front of goal in the 4-1 win over India costing them top spot in Group C and an easier route to the
Ji Dong-Won scored twice while Koo Ja-cheol and Son Heung-min also hit the back of the net as South Korea brushed aside the Indians at a wet Al Gharafa Stadium.
However, Australia's 1-0 triumph over Bahrain saw the Socceroos top the table on goal difference and avoid a meeting with one of the tournament favourites in the shape of Iran in the last eight.
"I am quite satisfied about the result of tonight's matches,'' said Cho. "We had chances to score many goals but I was happy with the players' attitude towards the game. They took it seriously and did their best. If we can continue these performances, I believe the team will do an excellent job for the quarter-final match.
"I don't worry so much about the chances we missed tonight. When it comes to Iran, they are one of the powerhouses of Asian football so we'd likely have to beat them at some point to win the tournament anyway. My concern was that I wouldn't have three players available for the game that were on a yellow card.
"I intentionally left Lee Jung-soo out and Cha Du-ri and Ki Sung-yeung only played the first half to prepare for the game against Iran. There are no weak teams in the quarter-finals so we have to prepare to have the team in the best condition.''
It was third consecutive defeat for India and, despite conceding 13 goals in the process, boss Bob Houghton was proud of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup winners' performance in Qatar.
"It was the third of three difficult games in eight days. For our team, it was a real challenge. We got through it, we're richer for the experience, the boys enjoyed it and they've learned a lot from it,'' he said of their first Asian Cup
appearance in 47 years.
"It's made them feel like they want to get back in four years' time and compete in Australia and what they learned this time will stand them in good stead. I hope it will raise the profile of the game back in India - that's the importance of us qualifying.
"It's been good PR and we shouldn't hang our heads even though we've lost all three games. So I think we can go home and push on from here and do even better things in the next four years.''