South Korea has advanced to the semifinals of the Asian Cup with a 2-1 comeback win over Australia in extra-time at Al Janoub Stadium, after Son Heung-min scored the winner with a sublime free kick.
Australia had beaten South Korea by the same scoreline in extra-time in the 2015 final to lift their first Asian Cup. But during Friday’s match, it was the East Asian team who prevailed after netting yet another goal in stoppage time to force extra-time.
Australia had taken the lead just before half-time when they cleverly switched flanks with neat passes in the box. Then, a cross from Australian player Nathaniel Atkinson found teammate Craig Goodwin, who had time to set himself up for a successful volley into the bottom corner.
Forward Martin Boyle could have made it 2-0 when he received a cross into the box, but goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo made two saves to deny him. Mitchell Duke’s volley from the rebound, meanwhile, went over the bar to give South Korea a reprieve.
South Korea coach Juergen Klinsmann made a tactical change in the second half, pushing Son further forward. The strategy worked when Son, a Tottenham Hotspur forward, was fouled in the box by Australia’s Lewis Miller in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Hwang Hee-chan stepped up: The Wolverhampton Wanderers forward took his time to calm his nerves before he fired his effort into the top corner to force extra-time — their fourth goal after the 90th minute at the tournament.
It was the second straight game for South Korea going to extra-time, after they beat Saudi Arabia on penalties. This time, Hwang won a free kick on the edge of the box from a foul conceded by Miller once again.
Son stepped up and saw his effort sail past the wall, beating goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to find the net. The goal sparked a wild celebration, with Klinsmann letting out a roar with his arms raised.
Australia’s attempts to fight back suffered a blow when Aiden O’Neill was sent off after a video assistant referee (VAR) review for a foul on Hwang, reducing Graham Arnold’s side to 10 men for the second half of extra-time where they could not find an equaliser.