Sydney: A razor-sharp finish from rookie striker Lee Jeong-Hyeop in the first half gave South Korea a 1-0 win over Australia on Saturday, ensuring they topped their Asian Cup group.
Lee, playing in only his second match for the Taeguk Warriors, struck after 32 minutes to stun the Australians, who had dominated up until then and who created the lion`s share of the chances in a blockbuster clash in Brisbane.
The Socceroos should have at least salvaged a draw, but wastefulness in front of goal scuppered their hopes of topping Group A and puts them on a collision course with holders Japan if the teams make the semi-finals.
The hosts now face the tournament`s surprise package China in a quarter-final, also in Brisbane, on Thursday, while South Korea will take on either Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia in Melbourne.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou made four changes from the 4-0 win over Oman, opting to leave Tim Cahill and Robbie Kruse on the bench, while his South Korea counterpart Uli Stielike made six to the side that beat Kuwait.
In a match played in stifling heat, humidity and a plague of moths, the Socceroos missed the firepower of Cahill, Austalia`s record goal scorer.
They had a string of good chances through stikers Tomi Juric and Nathan Burns but were unable to break through.
The Koreans caught Australia against the run of play when Lee timed his lunge to perfection, meeting a penetrating cross from Lee Keun-Ho to flick the ball past Mathew Ryan.
Juric blew a great chance before Burns went close in the 70th minute after a mazy run, only for his shot to be tipped onto the bar by Kim Jin-Hyeon.
Postecoglou finally threw on Cahill and Kruse with 20 minutes to go, but it was too little too late and the Koreans held on, the final whistle triggering a chorus of boos from a crowd of 48,000.