Uzbekistan, South Korea make it to the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals stage

Uzbekistan, South Korea make it to the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals stage

QLNews
By QLNews

Jo Hyeon-woo was the hero as South Korea progressed to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Saudi Arabia at the Education City Stadium. The two teams shared a 1-1 draw at the end of extra-time.

Jo saved attempts from Sami Al Naji and Abdulrahman Ghareeb in the third and fourth rounds of spot-kicks to leave Hwang Hee-chan to smash the winning penalty into the top corner and set up a meeting with Australia at Al Janoub Stadium on Friday.

The game went to penalties after Abdullah Radif had given the Saudis the lead less than a minute into the second half, but Cho Gue-sung levelled nine minutes into injury time with a header.

Earlier, Uzbekistan had booked their spot in the quarterfinals after defeating Thailand 2-1 at the Al Janoub Stadium.

The win, which took Uzbekistan into the quarterfinals of the continental showpiece for the fifth time in six editions, means Srecko Katanec’s side set up an enticing last-eight tie against defending champions Qatar at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday.

With an additional 30 minutes unable to separate South Korea and Saudi Arabia, Hwang hit the decisive penalty after Jo’s pair of saves left the crestfallen Saudis to wait for another three years to reclaim the title they last won in 1996.

A frantic end to normal time contrasted with the cagey opening that featured few opportunities, and so tight were the margins throughout the first 45 minutes that mistakes or set pieces represented the most likely way through for both teams.

The Taeguk Warriors’ fortune was to desert them seconds after the restart as Mancini’s decision to replace the largely ineffective Al Shehri with Radif paid off immediately.

Less than 30 seconds into the half, Al Burayk’s pass inside from the left to Al Dawsari was deftly cushioned into Radif’s path by the Al Hilal playmaker and the substitute took one touch to control before shooting successfully across Jo to the delight of the Saudi fans.

The Koreans, desperate to keep alive their quest for their first AFC Asian Cup in 64 years, threw everything forward in the dying minutes and their determination eventually paid off.

Ahmed Al Kassar twice denied Seol Young-woo and Hassan Al Tambakhti kept out Son Heung-min’s goal-bound attempt before a Cho injury time header came back off the crossbar.

Under the weight of Korean persistence, the Saudi resistance finally broke when Cho headed in from close range in the ninth of 10 minutes added on at the end of the game, after Seol Young-woo nodded the ball back across the face of goal.

After the game moved into a shoot-out, the Koreans eventually emerged triumphant.

With a place in the last eight at stake, both Uzbekistan and Thailand adopted a cautious approach. But the Uzbeks gradually began to dominate, creating chances as the half wore on.
Oston Urunov was at the heart of everything good that the White Wolves did going forward, exchanging passes with Jaloliddin Masharipov to set up a one-on-one situation with Thai keeper Patiwat Khammai only to drag his shot wide. 

Uzbekistan’s persistent pressure finally paid dividends in the 37th when Diyor Kholmatov, starting for the first time in the tournament, sent a pass behind Theerathon Bunmanthon for Azizbek Turgunboev to control with his chest before slamming past Patiwat.

Two minutes before the hour mark, the War Elephants found the equaliser when Supachok Sarachat drove from midfield and played a one-two with Supchai Chaided before bending the ball into the bottom corner past Utkir Yusupov.

The parity, however, only lasted seven minutes with Uzbekistan regaining their lead after Jaloliddin Masharipov teed up Abbosbek Fayzullaev, with the latter turning his marker before producing a stunning goal from 25 yards out.

Thailand tried their best but could not create clear chances as Uzbekistan’s defence stood up to the test.

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