JI Dong-won's double sealed South Korea's place at the 2015 Asian Cup with an entertaining 3-2 victory over Uzbekistan at Al Sadd Stadium on Friday evening.
With the top three teams in Qatar all automatically qualifying for the next edition in Australia in four years time, there was plenty to play for in the third-place play-off and Korea raced into a three-goal lead after 38 minutes.
Alexander Geynrikh then struck either side of the break to give Uzbekistan hope of a fightback but they were unable to craft the equaliser they needed to force extra time as Korea equalled their performance from four years ago when they beat Japan on penalties.
Cho Kwang-rae's side went in front after 17 minutes when Lee Yong-rae's perfectly-timed pass released Koo Ja-cheol and he raced clear before the Asian Cup's leading scorer beat Ignatiy Nesterov with a clinical finish for his fifth goal of the competition.
Korea doubled their advantage 10 minutes later when a slick move ended with Ji drilling the ball into the bottom corner of Nesterov's net.
Ji then claimed his second and his side's third seven minutes before the interval with a leaping header near the penalty spot that evaded Nesterov's outstretched hand.
Uzbekistan were thrown a lifeline with the interval approaching, however, when Hwang Jae-won pulled down Timur Kapadze just inside the box.
From the resulting penalty, Geynrikh's audacious chip sent keeper Jung Sung-ryong the wrong way as it floated into the back of the net but a retake was ordered due to encroachment. The midfielder opted to blast the ball into the back of the net at the second time of asking.
Geynrikh then reduced the arrears further with a fine individual effort in the 52nd minute. After superbly bringing down a cross from the left on the edge of the box, he turned defender Lee Jung-soo inside out before dispatching a low finish past Jung at his near post.
Ji almost connected with Lee Young-pyo's low cross in the 61st minute and was unlucky to see a low shot from the edge of the area come back of the post five minutes later.
Uzbekistan pressed for the equaliser they so desperately needed in the final stages but the Korean defence stood firm to secure third place and their ticket to Australia in four years' time.