The "war" between China and South Korea is now over with the Chinese side emerging victorious in a 1-0 win, crucial for both national pride and for qualifying for the World Cup.
On Thursday night, the two national teams faced off in Changsha for their highly-anticipated group match of the World Cup Asian qualifiers. More than 37,000 people looked on as Chinese forward Yu Dabao headed home a corner kick with 10 minutes left before halftime, sending the stadium into a frenzy.
The victory keeps China's almost non-existent hopes alive of qualifying for the World Cup. In their first five games, China tied two and lost three, including a 2-3 loss in Seoul against the South Korean team.
Along with patriotic Chinese fans, the match was watched by an "unprecedented" security force of 10,000 police officers including some in full riot gear who were there to keep the "Changsha War" from getting out of hand. The small contingent of 100 or so South Korean fans inside the stadium were surrounded by just as many police. Before the match started, two helicopters circled the stadium from above.
South Korea and China are currently embroiled in a bitter dispute over the installation of the US-backed THAAD missile defense system. Despite objections from Beijing, Seoul has continued along with setting up the defense system. China has responded by targeting South Korean businesses and the country's tourism industry, riling up nationalistic sentiment among its population.
According to the Global Times, the Weibo hashtag "Opposing South Korea begins with football" received over 640,000 clicks in the build-up to the match.