South Korea beat Saudi Arabia on penalties to reach Asian Cup last eight

South Korea will have only two days to recover after playing 120 minutes, with their quarter-final clash against Australia taking place on Friday

Reuters
Published : 30 Jan 2024, 10:44 PM
Updated : 30 Jan 2024, 10:44 PM

South Korea beat Saudi Arabia 4-2 in a penalty shootout to advance to the Asian Cup quarter-finals after a thrilling last-16 tie ended 1-1 after extra time at Education City Stadium on Tuesday.

After South Korea's Cho Gue-sung equalised in second-half added time to cancel out Abdullah Radif's opener, Sami Al-Najei and Abdulrahman Ghareeb had their penalties saved by Jo Hyeon-Woo to send South Korea through.

"I had confidence that I could make some saves for my team. I'm happy I could take my team through to the next round," Jo told reporters.

South Korea converted all their spot kicks to advance but they will have only two days to recover after playing 120 minutes, with their quarter-final clash against 2015 champions Australia taking place on Friday.

"That's the reason why I badly wanted to win our group. Some people said I was happy not to top the group and avoid Japan. We didn't win the group and we've paid the price," South Korea coach Juergen Klinsmann said.

"But this win has given this team more spirit. I enjoy coaching this group and they badly want to do well for their country. We wanted to win before penalties, we didn't count on a shootout.

"We will recover because we have a good atmosphere. We're looking forward to Australia, they won 4-0 (against Indonesia). This win tonight gives us a lot of optimism, belief and energy - which we will need to beat Australia."

"Asia is Green" read a banner alongside one with a player in a Saudi kit crouching with one hand on the Asian Cup trophy, as the vocal fans bouncing in the stands created an atmosphere that felt like a home game for Roberto Mancini's side.

Yet it was the South Korean team playing in bright orange that prevailed after the Gulf nation and three-times champions ran out of gas in the dying stages of the match and crumbled under the pressure.

Saudi Arabia had the best chance of the first half when two headers from a corner crashed off the crossbar while a third destined for the top corner was parried away by goalkeeper Jo.

At the other end, Son Heung-min was put through on goal twice but his tame efforts were easily saved as the half ended goalless.

INSTANT IMPACT

However, Saudi Arabia took the lead immediately after the restart when halftime substitute Radif made an instant impact 30 seconds after coming on.

The lanky 21-year-old forward made a run in behind the defence to receive a pass from skipper Salem Al-Dawsari and beat the keeper with a shot that nestled in the far bottom corner of the net, before wheeling away in celebration.

The goal spurred the Saudis on and they made things difficult for South Korea who struggled to make inroads into the final third, until the final 10 minutes when they had a series of set pieces.

With Saudi Arabia having one foot in the quarter-finals, South Korea finally breached the Saudi defence in the ninth minute of added time when their pressure paid off and Cho headed home from close range to force extra time.

After neither side found a breakthrough in extra time, the arena was silenced when Jo made the two saves in the shootout.

Saudi fans began leaving in droves while Mancini also walked straight down the tunnel before Hwang Hee-chan stepped up and scored the decisive spot kick.

"I apologise for this, I thought the shootout was over," said Mancini, who also brushed aside questions about his future as Saudi Arabia's coach.

"I don't think you understand the level of Korea, it's too high. They have incredible players.

"I'm very sad after conceding a goal in the last minute and losing a penalty shootout. I don't understand why 10 minutes of extra time was added. As a team it's clear we have to improve more at this level, we have to work."