Northern Ireland 2 South Korea 1: Son frustrated as World Cup preparations stutter

Northern Ireland came from behind to defeat South Korea 2-1 and inflict an early blow in the visitors' preparations for the World Cup finals. 

Kwon Chang-hoon opened the scoring in the seventh minute for the Asian heavyweights, Northern Ireland equalising by forcing a Kim Min-jae own goal from a clever set-piece 13 minutes later.

South Korea, led by Tottenham star Son Heung-min and with Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung-yueng wearing the captain's armband, controlled possession and pressed in search of a second goal after the break.

But a succession of substitutions as the game wore on interrupted the flow of the contest and Northern Ireland, missing the likes of regular captain Steven Davis and centre-forward Kyle Lafferty due to injury and with highly rated young Norwich fullback Jamal Lewis making his debut, pounced to snatch victory through debutant Paul Smyth with four minutes remaining. 

It was a gratifying and somewhat unexpected outcome for Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill, who in January rejected the advances of Scotland as they sought to appoint him as Gordon Strachan's replacement. 

Next up for Korea is a friendly against fellow World Cup participants Poland in Chorzow on Tuesday, as they build toward matches against Sweden, Mexico and holders Germany at the finals in Russia.

Northern Ireland are not back in action until facing Panama in May.

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