Advertisement

Son magic takes S. Korea into Asian Cup semi-final with Jordan

Son Heung-min celebrates at the end (Giuseppe CACACE)
Son Heung-min celebrates at the end (Giuseppe CACACE)

South Korea will face Jordan in the Asian Cup semi-finals after Son Heung-min stepped up in extra time with a sumptuous free-kick to see off Australia 2-1 on Friday.

Jordan sealed their place in the last four with a nervy 1-0 victory that brought Tajikistan's fairytale journey in Qatar to an end.

Tottenham's Son, Asia's best player and South Korea's skipper, had yet to fully make his mark at the tournament but he delivered when it counted, also winning a penalty for Hwang Hee-chan to level deep in second-half stoppage time.

"We're still here and we're going to be here to the very end," said South Korea's coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Australia opened the scoring in the 42nd minute when Hwang In-beom gave the ball away in defence and Connor Metcalfe floated the ball to the back post for Craig Goodwin to volley home.

South Korea, who are looking to win the Asian Cup for the first time since 1960, equalised in the 96th-minute when Hwang held his nerve from the spot.

South Korea were in the ascendancy now and Son curled in a sublime free-kick from the edge of the box in the 104th minute to win them the quarter-final.

Klinsmann, who has been under fire for South Korea's performances in Qatar, led his team in a wild celebration at the end.

"Obviously it was another drama," said Klinsmann. "I'm proud of this team."

Australia finished the match with 10 men after Aiden O'Neill was red-carded for lunging at Hwang at the end of the first period of extra time.

"We're devastated at the moment, quite emotional for all the players and the staff," said Australia's coach Graham Arnold.

"For the first 90-odd minutes we did very well until giving that penalty away. It's been a great tournament for a lot of my players."

He added: "We were up 1-0, we had chances for 2-0, 3-0, and if you don't take your chances, you get punished."

- Jordan just do enough -

In the other quarter-final on the day, a deflected second-half own goal was just about enough to see Jordan reach the last four for the first time.

It was tough on charismatic Croatian coach Petar Segrt and his Tajikistan team, who were the lowest-ranked side left in Qatar and won plenty of new friends in their first Asian Cup.

But it was a piece of history for Jordan under their Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta, the country having been defeated in their previous quarter-finals in 2004 and 2011.

"We were rewarded for our efforts and our ambitions are getting bigger and bigger," said defender Yazan Al-Arab, who was named man of the match.

"This was history. We are into the semi-finals and we rely on our fans to keep supporting us no matter who we play.

"We need now to forget the Tajikistan match and concentrate on the semi-finals and our dream of reaching the final."

A cagey game was decided on 66 minutes when Jordan defender Abdallah Nasib rose at a corner and his header deflected off Tajikistan's Vahdat Hanonov and into his own goal.

Both sides had chances after that but Jordan held on to book their place in the last four.

"Nobody expected this (to go so far) at the tournament," said Segrt.

"I was dreaming of something more, but now we see our limit.

"Tajikistan are going home but we can go home with honour and pride."

In Saturday's remaining quarter-finals, holders Qatar face Uzbekistan while pre-tournament favourites Japan play Iran.

pst/ea