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Late Luongo strike gives Australia 1-1 draw with South Korea

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(Reuters) – Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo scored a stoppage-time equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw with South Korea in an entertaining friendly at a rain-drenched Lang Park in Brisbane on Saturday.

Hwang Ui-jo’s 22nd minute goal for the visitors against the run of play had looked like winning the re-match of the 2015 Asian Cup final, when the Socceroos won the title they will defend in the United Arab Emirates early next year.

The home side laid siege to the South Korea goal as the seconds ticked away, however, and Luongo — player of the tournament four years ago — was on hand to tap the ball into the net after a goalmouth scramble.

Australia, playing their first home match under their new coach Graham Arnold, had started the game at a frantic pace in an attacking formation that created a flurry of early chances.

The hosts had seven shots on goal before the visitors managed a first but it was the Taeguk Warriors, now unbeaten in five matches under new coach Paulo Bento, who made theirs count.

Defender Kim Min-jae launched a long pass out of defence which caught Trent Sainsbury flat-footed and Hwang was able to race onto the ball and take his time before burying it in the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

The Socceroos continued to press forward but without the verve of their earlier attacks and the South Koreans managed to take their lead into the break quite comfortably.

Neither midfielder Koo Ja-cheol or goalscorer Hwang made it to halftime, though, with both taken off the pitch on stretchers in the space of a couple of minutes.

The match became more of an end-to-end affair in the second half with Australia threatening most through Mathew Leckie and whenever full back Josh Risdon got the ball on the right flank.

South Korea’s best chances came from free kicks with Hwang In-beom flashing one past the post on the hour mark and Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan producing a fine save at full stretch to deny Ju Se-Jong from another.

Martin Boyle was handed his first appearance for a country he had never visited until this week as a late substitute and the Scotland-born winger played a part in Australia’s equaliser.

Tom Rogic rifled a shot through a crowd of players from the edge of the box that goalkeeper Kim Seung-Gyu was only able to parry into Boyle’s path with Luongo pouncing to tap the loose ball into an empty net.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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