MELBOURNE, Jan 22 (Reuters) - South Korea and Uzbekistan both created plenty of chances but were deadlocked 0-0 after an action-packed first half of the opening quarter-final of the Asian Cup at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Thursday.
With a semi-final meeting against Iran or Iraq at stake, this was no dour stalemate and both sides attacked with brio and defended with a muscularity that often bordered on the illegal.
It was clear from the first few minutes that both sides had come to Melbourne intent on scoring but the game really came to life in the 17th minute when Uzbekistan spurned two good chances inside a minute.
First, Sanjar Tursunov found himself free at the back post but his first touch let him down and allowed a charging South Korea keeper Kim Jin-hyeon to block his shot.
The ball came straight back into the penalty box from the following corner and again the South Korean defending was lax but Odil Akhmedov blasted over from close range.
The South Koreans hit straight back with a couple of chances of their own, Lee Keun-ho wasting the first after good work from Kim Jin-su down the left flank and Lee Jeong-hyeop blasting the ball well wide from the edge of the box.
The Koreans continued to pour forward and after 25 minutes, Uzbekistan keeper Ignatiy Nesterov had to make a stunning double save from Lee Keun-ho and Nam Tae-hee before moments later tipping a curling effort from Son Heung-min over the bar.
Remarkably the match was still scoreless and while South Korea looked the more likely to break the deadlock given their greater share of possession, Uzbekistan were still proving a handful on the break. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)