South win Korean derby
South Korean substitute Kim Chi-Woo scored a last-gasp winner as the hosts edged North Korea 1-0 in their politically-charged World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.
Kim shattered their northern neighbour's dreams with a curling, left-foot freekick in the 88th minute that deflected off North Korea's Hong Yong-Jo and into the net, ending a run of five draws between the arch enemies.
It lifted South Korea onto the top of Asian Group B with 11 points from five matches. The North, having played six games, remain on 10 points, three ahead of Saudi Arabia and four in front of Iran.
"I'm really happy to have scored at a crucial moment," said Kim, who came on with 12 minutes left.
"North Korea were a lot tougher than in the past. But after this hard-fought win, I am sure we'll be off and running from here."
The match, only the second FIFA-sanctioned inter-Korean showdown in Seoul, was staged amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea is preparing to launch what they claim is a communications satellite between April 4-8, while South Korea, along with the United States and Japan, believe it is a cover for a ballistic missile test.
Against this backdrop, hundreds of fans each held up small South Korean flags during the national anthem, an unusual display at sporting events here, while the partisan 48,000-strong crowd booed North Korea's every touch.
It was the North who started stronger with Hong Yong-Jo pouncing on a loose ball just outside the box early on and forcing South Korean 'keeper Lee Woon-Jae to make a diving save to his right.
But for the rest of the half it was all South Korea, who were repeatedly frustrated by the stifling North Korean defence.
The North crowded their box with as many as six players, and in midfield, defenders constantly pressured the South Korean ball carriers.
In the 13th minute, Ki Sung-Yueng's curling freekick from the left sailed over the bar while Ki set up Hwang Jae-Won for a header deep in the box 10 minutes later, but the shot also went high.
On the half-hour mark, Park Chu-Young's low shot from the left rolled just wide and six minutes later Ki teed one up for the charging Lee Young-Pyo whose shot skidded past the right-hand post.
The North almost took the lead early in the second half, as Hong's cross found the South Korean defence napping.
But in a spectacular save, 'keeper Lee scooped a sure goal from Jong Tae-Se off the line with his right hand.
North Korean coach Kim Jong-Hun was fuming about the call, claiming the ball crossed the line.
"Referees must be fair. I've never seen anything like this, the ball clearly went over the line but the referee ignored it," he said before leaving the post-match press conference without taking questions.
The close call woke up the South and they started pushing forward.
In the 65th minute, Lee Keun-Ho latched onto a Park Chu-Young pass in the penalty area but his drive went straight at the goalkeeper.
Three minutes later, nifty passes by Park Ji-Sung and Park Chu-Young found the charging Lee in the middle of the box, but his shot once again fell into the arms of Ri before Kim rescued the day with his late goal.
The Koreas resume qualifying on June 6, with the South travelling to the United Arab Emirates and the North hosting Iran.