Sharjah: There was heartbreak for Lebanon despite coming from behind to defeat DPR Korea 4-1 in their final AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Group E match at the Sharjah Stadium on Thursday, as victory was not enough to take them through to the knockout stage.
Lebanon lost out to Vietnam on the fairplay rule after both teams finished with identical points and goal difference.
Lebanon needed to win by four clear goals to advance but despite a valiant effort, they fell just short.
Lebanon had the first look at goal from a free-kick in the sixth minute but Hassan Maatouk saw his effort blocked by a sea of defenders.
Kim Yong-jun’s men seized the opportunity to get in front, when Pak Kwang-ryong converted his free-kick in the ninth minute to give DPR Korea an early advantage.
Lebanon, however refused to give in and levelled the score just before the half hour mark when Maatouk showcased some sublime dribbling skills down the left before laying off for George Felix Melki, who smashed the ball into the back of the net.
Lebanon asserted more pressure on their opponents and almost scored again but Hilal Alhelwe’s effort was cleared off the line in the 32nd minute.
DPR Korea looked vulnerable at the back as Lebanon continued to dominate possession but wasted several chance as both teams went into the break level.
It was end to end action in the opening minutes of the second half with both teams determined not to settle for a draw.
Lebanon, however, continued to dominate play with DPR Korea finding themselves in trouble at the back with Felix Melki coming close to scoring in the 57th minute but angled his header across the bar.
Miodrag Radulovic’s side finally broke the deadlock in the 65th minute after Mohamad Haidar’s well-timed cross found an unmarked Alhelwe who turned to score from close range.
DPR Korea came under heavy pressure from the start of the second half as Lebanon attacked in numbers but the Cedars were unable to convert their chances in front of goal.
There was more agony for Kim’s charges as they conceded a penalty after Rabin Ataya was brought down in the danger area.
Maatouk converted the spot-kick in the 80th minute, sending goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk the wrong way, with a fourth coming in the seventh minute of added time through Hilal Alhelwe but there was no knockout stage joy for Lebanon.
Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE