Asian Games: South Korea edge past Uzbekistan in thrilling quarter-final encounter to keep Son’s military exemption hopes alive
South Korea advance to semi-final with narrow extra-time win over 10-man Uzbekistan
South Korea booked their spot in the semi-finals of the Asian Games football competition on Monday after a thrilling 4-3 win against Uzbekistan at Patriot Chandrabhaga Stadium near Jakarta.
Level at 3-3 at the end of 90 minutes of a pulsating tie, the match went to extra time, and South Korean substitute Hwang Hee-chan sealed the win with four minutes to go before a penalty shoot-out.
The build-up suggested we could see the game of the tournament so far, and the clash delivered on that.
Both teams had impressed in patches during the qualifying stage, Uzbekistan progressing with a perfect record including a last-16 win over Hong Kong, and with South Korea bolstered by a fired-up Son Heung-min there was potential for a match high on quality.
South Korea opened the scoring after just five minutes with Hwang Ui-jo netting his first of an impressive hat-trick.
Jaloliddin Masharipov hit back for the defending AFC under-23 champions 12 minutes later, before Hwang Ui-jo restored Korea’s lead to 2-1 at the interval.
The second half started at a ferocious pace, and it was Uzbekistan who emerged the better side equalising and taking the lead with 12 minutes of the restart through Ikromjon Alibaeva and a Hwang Hyun-soo own goal respectively.
Hwang Ui-jo bagged the equaliser and his third of the match for the South Koreans with 15 minutes remaining.
Extra-time was tight with few chances, but when Uzbekistan’s Alibaev was sent off for a second bookable offence with 20 minutes still remaining, it was advantage South Korea.
South Korea’s pressure eventually told when substitute Hwang Hee-chan converted a penalty following a foul in the box.
Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min, who provided a pair of assists against Uzbekistan, is participating in the tournament in an effort to guide South Korea to the gold medal thereby avoiding mandatory military service in his own country, which could adversely affect his club career in the English Premier League.
He now stands just 180 minutes from gaining that exemption.
South Korea will face either Syria or Vietnam in the semi-finals.
Also on Monday, Japan defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 to book their spot in the semi-finals. They will play either United Arab Emirates or North Korea.
Level at 3-3 at the end of 90 minutes in a pulsating tie, the match went to extra time and South Korean substitute Hwang Hee-chan sealed the win from the penalty spot with four minutes to go before a penalty shoot-out.