Son puts S. Korea atop Group C

Kyrgyzstan reaches knockouts

South Korea's Son Heung-min waves to the fans after their Group C match of the Asian Cup against China at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi Wednesday. — Reuters

AL AIN — South Korea beat China 2-0 to secure top spot in Group C at the Asian Cup Wednesday as Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min made his first appearance in the tournament for Paulo Bento's side.

The Spurs forward arrived from London Monday following his club's Premier League loss to Manchester United and was not expected to start South Korea's final group encounter.

Yet with the Koreans needing a win to claim pole position, Bento selected the 26-year-old and goals from Hwang Ui-jo and Kim Min-jae secured all three points for the Taeguk Warriors.

China finished second in the group on six points, three adrift of the Koreans and three ahead of Kyrgyzstan, who also made the knockouts after a 3-1 win over Sven-Goran Eriksson's Philippines.

Hwang put Korea in front from the penalty spot after 14 minutes and the Gamba Osaka striker almost doubled his side's lead in the 25th minute, only to see his curling shot from the left come back off the post.

Kim added the second six minutes into the second half with a powerful header from Son's corner, and the Spurs man was substituted three minutes from fulltime.

"All teams become stronger when they have their best players, and Son is one of our best players," said Bento.

"He gives us more options going forward, an area that we need strengthening.

"We made the decision to play Son because every coach wants to field the players who can influence games. Son is a player who can play in different positions which, in turn, allows the team to play in different ways." — Reuters