SEOUL - North Korea moved to the top of Group 2 after beating United Arab Emirates 2-0 in Pyongyang in 2010 World Cup qualifying on Saturday. Second-half goals from Pak Nam-chol and Mun In-guk sparked euphoric scenes at a packed Kim Il-sung Stadium and pushed the North Koreans two points clear of rivals South Korea and a step closer to their first World Cup since 1966. The defeat left UAE rooted to the bottom with one point from five games, all but burying their hopes of reaching the finals. Willed on by an expectant crowd, North Korea dominated the first half but were frustrated by a UAE side that defended well but lacked drive going forward. The attacks came thick and fast after the half hour mark with Hong Yong-jo and the dangerous Jong Tae-se thwarted by Majed Naser in the UAE goal. North Korea piled on the pressure and had the best chance of the half on 43 minutes when the diminutive Jong leapt high into the air and forced a superb save from Naser. In a must-win game for the visitors, UAE looked resigned to an early exit from the campaign and had their only real chance on the stroke of halftime when Hamdan al-Kamali had his free kick comfortably saved by Ri Myong-guk. North Korea came out fighting after the interval and their tenacity paid off on 51 minutes when Pak received the ball on the edge of the area and unleashed a powerful left foot drive into the top corner. Mun almost doubled the lead with 11 minutes remaining when his long range shot crashed against the post with Naser beaten. Mun made sure of the victory three minutes into stoppage time when he connected with Ji Yun-nam's cross from the left and found the net from six metres. The win left North Korea on 10 points from five matches. They next face South Korea, who have played a less game and can snatch back their lead with three points in Seoul on Wednesday.
28 March 2009
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