Hyderabad:Favourites DPR Korea maintained their clean slate defeating Myanmar by a solitary goal in their last Group B match of the AFC Challenge Cup football tournament at the Lal Bahadur Stadium on Monday.
In the battle to decide the group topper, Ro Hak Su scored the all-important goal in the 16th minute of the match and later the Koreans hung on to the lead till the end.
Both the sides have already made it to the semifinals after winning their earlier two matches, but were in no mood to concede an inch to their opponents and pressed for a win.
With three wins from as many matches, DPR Korea top the group with nine points while Myanmar finished second with six points. The Koreans will play Group A runners-up Tajikistan while Myanmar will lock horns with hosts India in the semifinals on Thursday.
In another inconsequential Group B match played simultaneously at the Gachibowli Stadium, Nepal thrashed Sri Lanka 3-0 to notch up their only win in the tournament.
Played under heavy ground conditions with the middle of the Lal Bahadur Stadium turning out to be a muddy field, DPR Korea had more of the attacks in the first half.
Even as the sparse crowd were yet to settle down, the Koreans had their first chance in the first minute itself but Ro Hak Su's right-footed volley was blocked by a Myanmar defender.
However, it was Hak Su who put his team ahead by firing home a powerful left footer from inside the box which gave Myanmar goalkeeper Aung Aung Oo hardly any time to react.
Nine minutes later, Myanmar had a close shave but Yun Yong Il's shot was deflected wide by the goalkeeper for a corner.
Myanmar also had a couple of chances in the first half. In the 33rd minute, Myo Min Tun's left footer from the edge of the box was palmed away by Korean goalkeeper Ju Kwang Min.
Next minute, referee Shamsuzzaman Tayeb Hasan denied Myanmar a goal after skipper Soe Myat Min jumped over a defender into the goal by ruling that he had fouled his marker.
Four minutes later, Myanmar goalkeeper Aung had to dive full length to his left to stop a long ranger by substitute Ri Jin Hyok from around 25 yards.
After the breather, Myanmar began on a promising note with lots of ground passes even under heavy ground conditions with attacks mainly from the right flank. But, it was the Koreans who got a clear chance to double the lead in the 56th minute with So Kang Chol but his shot under pressure from a defender hit the outstretched hands of the Myanmar custodian.
The Koreans though had a close shave in the 76th minute. From a free kick by Myo Min Tun and a dummy run later, the ball deflected towards the Korean goal from a defender's leg, which beat the goalkeeper but luckily for the East Asians sailed over the bar by a few inches.
The Myanmarese made a last ditched effort three minutes from time, but substitute Pai Soe's left footer from inside the box was deflected by a defender for a corner.