South Korea sets up a semifinal date with Jordan after thrilling wins

South Korea sets up a semifinal date with Jordan after thrilling wins

QLNews
By QLNews

Son Heung-min dragged South Korea into the semifinals of the AFC Asian Cup, winning an injury-time penalty and scoring a stunning extra-time free-kick to earn his nation a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Australia at the Al Janoub Stadium on Friday.

The Tottenham Hotspur forward hauled the Taeguk Warriors back into the game after Craig Goodwin had given the Australians a 42nd-minute lead with a close-range volley.

The 31-year-old was brought down deep into injury time by Lewis Miller to allow Hwang Hee-chan to thump his spot-kick past Maty Ryan before Son bent a trademark free-kick over the wall 14 minutes into extra-time to take Jurgen Klinsmann’s team through.

Earlier, a Vahdat Hanonov own goal was enough to send Jordan to the AFC Asian Cup semifinals for the first time in their history, following a 1-0 victory over Tajikistan at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

The South Koreans will now meet Jordan in the semifinal at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday.

After going behind 1-2, Australia’s hopes of clawing their way back into the game were hit when substitute Aiden O’Neill was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Hwang late in the first period of extra-time.

Klinsmann’s side had dictated the rhythm of the opening quarter of an hour without prising open the Australian defence, and the Socceroos eventually broke out of the stranglehold to threaten.

Connor Metcalfe was off target with a pair of early efforts and it took an error from Hwang In-beom three minutes before the interval to provide the Australians with the opportunity to set-up the opening goal. Graham Arnold’s side did not refuse the offer.

Goodwin picked up possession on the edge of the area after the misplaced pass and the ball was worked to Atkinson, who burst down the right to chip his pass across goal towards the former Adelaide United man, and he smashed a left foot volley beyond Jo.

For all the South Koreans’ probing down both flanks, the Socceroos held firm with Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles dominating at the back to keep out the repeated forays forward.

Arnold’s side remained dangerous on the counterattack, with Jo having to pluck a Duke header from under the crossbar and substitute Riley McGree sending a side-footed volley just over the bar.

South Korea’s relentless pressure paid off five minutes into injury time when Son’s determination and skill took him past Souttar for Lewis Miller to haul down the forward, leaving referee Ahmed Abu Bakar Al Kaf no option but to point to the spot with a nerveless Hwang striking to take the game into an additional 30 minutes.

Son then delivered the killer blow when, after Hwang had been brought down on the edge of the area, he struck his right-foot shot over the wall and beyond Ryan to spark scenes of jubilation.

Jordan had reached the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals twice, losing to Japan in 2004 and Uzbekistan in 2011, while Tajikistan’s maiden continental adventure ended at the quarterfinals after a series of heroic performances in Qatar.

Jordanian goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila was left watching in fear as the ball bounced off the crossbar after Ehson Panjshanbe was first to poke Shervoni Mabatshoev’s low cross from the right.

Tajikistan suffered a blow when forward Shahrom Samiev had to hobble off the pitch in tears following a hamstring injury, to be replaced by Rustam Soirov before the half-hour mark.

The first big Jordanian chance arrived a minute later when Mahmoud Al Mardi curled an in-swinging cross from the left flank towards the far post where Yazan Al Nuaimat lurked, but the forward’s attempted finish saw the ball hitting the side netting.

Coach Petar Segrt’s men were gifted a scoring chance on a silver platter seven minutes into the second half when left-back Salem Al Ajalin failed to deal with the ball, allowing Mabatshoev to snatch the ball and advance into the box, but with just the goalkeeper to beat, he fluffed his lines under pressure from defender Yazan Al Arab.

The deadlock was finally broken midway through the second half when defender Abdullah Nasib rose highest to head Ehsan Haddad’s delivery from the corner, and his header bounced off Tajik defender Vahdat Hanonov before settling in the back of the net for Jordan’s opener.

Jordan nearly doubled their lead two minutes later when a quick counterattack saw Yazan Al Nuaimat dance his way past two Tajik players before squaring for Al Taamari who had the goal at his mercy but sent his shot from 11 yards wide and high.

With their opponents remaining compact to defend their lead, Tajikistan resorted to long range shots as one of their few remaining solutions.

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