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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - South Korea overcome Saudi Arabia in extra time to become Asian under-23 champions
South Korea overcame Saudi Arabia in extra time to win the final of the Asian Under-23 championship in Bangkok on Sunday.
A goal from Jeong Tae-Wook just minutes away from a penalty shoot-out was all there was between the two sides in a closely fought contest.
Despite the disappointment, the Green Falcons will walk away from the tournament having qualified for the Olympic Games next summer through the under-23 event. It will be the first time Saudi Arabia have featured at the football tournament of the Olympics since Atlanta 1996.
Saudi Arabia's superbly organised defence looked set to frustrate the South Koreans until the 113th-minute winner.
It was the South Koreans' first title in the fourth edition of this tournament, giving them the perfect ending to a campaign in which they also qualified for their ninth straight Olympics.
After a scrappy opening period, Jeong Woo-yeong brought the game to life in the 20th minute. The SC Freiburg forward tricked his way past a defender to go through on goal before Mohammed Al Yami narrowed the angle and saved his shot.
The Saudis responded 10 minutes later when Abdullah Al-Hamdan saw his effort blocked from close range.
Three minutes from half-time, Jeong Woo-Yeong missed the best chance of the first 45 minutes, blasting over from 12 yards out.
South Korea again came close to making the breakthrough in the 58th minute. Lee Dong-jun cut inside from the right and angled a shot for the far corner, but Al Yami got down to make a fine save.
Saudi Arabia finally showed some more attacking intent as the match edged toward the 90-minute mark and Abdulrahman Ghareeb fired a powerful effort over from 20 yards with three minutes remaining.
The match entered extra time and, after an uneventful 20 minutes, Lee Dong-gyeong threatened with a low shot from the edge of the box, but Al Yami made the save again.
But South Korea finally broke the deadlock in the 113th minute when Jeong Tae-wook rose to head home Lee Dong-gyeong's free kick, sparking wild celebrations.
The young Green Falcons of Saudi Arabia defeated Uzbekistan 1-0 in the semifinals, while South Korea beat Australia 2-0.
Three teams will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics from the Asian competition, joining host Japan in a 16-nation lineup.
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