Match report as South Korea pip Uruguay to second spot in Group H courtesy of their dramatic victory over Portugal, who still end up as group winners; Uruguay's 2-0 win over Ghana proves academic as South Korea advance on goals scored
Saturday 3 December 2022 07:03, UK
South Korea dramatically reached the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup on goals scored after Hee-Chan Hwang struck a 91st-minute winner to beat Portugal 2-1 in Al Rayyan.
Only twice before in their history had South Korea advanced to the knockout stages of the World Cup, but Wolves forward Hwang came off the bench to send reverberations from the Education City Stadium to Seoul in dramatic fashion as he latched onto Heung-Min Son's pass to slot past Diogo Costa (90+1).
Portugal, already qualified for the last 16 and needing only a draw to be sure of top spot in the group, grabbed the lead with a fifth-minute goal from Ricardo Horta, who met a Diogo Dalot cross and hammered it home from close range.
Young-Gwon Kim gave the Taeguk Warriors a lifeline after pouncing on a bouncing ball in the goalmouth and hooking it into the net (27).
Uruguay were beating Ghana 2-0, meaning South Korea needed only to beat Portugal to reach the last 16 on goals scored - four goals to two - and in the first minute of stoppage time, Hwang obliged.
The Wolves forward said afterwards: "Heung-Min said to me before the match I was going to create something today, and that he trusts me.
"When I went on as a sub, a lot of team-mates said it too. That ended up as a good result and Son, when he got the ball, I was convinced he would pass me the ball. It was an excellent pass and made my job much easier."
The last-gasp victory for South Korea catapulted them from fourth to second place in Group H ahead of Uruguay, who failed to score enough goals to finish above the Asians.
South Korea: Seung-Gyu Kim (6), Moon-Hwan Kim (6), Kyung-Won Kwon (6), Young-Gwon Kim (7), Jin-Su Kim (7), Jung, In-Beom Hwang (6), Kang-In Lee (6), Jae-Sung Lee (5), Heung-Min Son (7), Gue-Sung Cho (6).
Subs: Hee-Chan Hwang (7), Jun-Ho Son (n/a), Eui-Jo Hwang (n/a).
Portugal: Costa (6), Dalot (8), Pepe (6), Silva (7), Joao Cancelo (7), Matheus Luiz (6), Neves (7), Vitinha (7), Joao Mario (6), Ronaldo (6), Ricardo Horta (7).
Subs: Joao Palhinha (6), Andre Silva (6), Bernardo Silva (n/a), William Carvalho (n/a), Leao (6).
Man of the match: Diogo Dalot.
Saturday December 3
Netherlands vs USA - Kick-off 3pm
Argentina vs Australia - Kick-off 7pm
Sunday December 4
France vs Poland - Kick-off 3pm
England vs Senegal - Kick-off 7pm
Monday December 5
Japan vs Croatia - Kick-off 3pm
Brazil vs South Korea - Kick-off 7pm
Tuesday December 6
Morocco vs Spain - Kick-off 3pm
Portugal vs Switzerland - Kick-off 7pm
There were stunning scenes on the pitch at the Education City Stadium as the South Korean players waited in a huddle with a smartphone, witnessing the final knockings of the Uruguay game with Ghana, praying for no more goals.
There were tears when the final whistle went in the game taking place simultaneously across Doha, sending the Korean players and fans delirious. Both they and Japan are into the round of 16, with South Korea now likely to face Brazil on Monday.
Portugal, needing only a draw to be sure of top spot in Group H and mindful of the risk of yellow-card suspensions in the next round, made six changes and Horta - one of those alterations - gave Fernando Santos' men the perfect start inside three minutes.
Dalot, also recalled by Santos, darted in behind the South Korea left-back Jin-Su Kim and the Manchester United defender picked out Horta for his second international goal.
It means Dalot has now been directly involved in four goals across his last three appearances for Portugal in all competitions (two goals, two assists), scoring or assisting in each match.
The Koreans, with one point heading into the contest, had to beat Portugal and hope the result of Ghana's match with Uruguay went their way in order to reach the last 16 - and moments after news had filtered through of a second goal for the South Americans, it was Kim who levelled.
Portugal failed to clear a corner as the ball struck the back of Cristiano Ronaldo and fell kindly for Kim, who scored at the 2018 World Cup against Germany, and the defender had the simple task of tapping home.
Ronaldo, seeking a goal to equal Portugal's overall World Cup record of nine scored by the great Eusebio, had his first chance just after the half-hour mark with a solo effort which Kim Seung-gyu saved and he was in any case offside.
The Portugal captain had another one-on-one with Kim but his effort was too weak to trouble the keeper and he was given a rest in the 65th minute when replaced by striker Andre Silva.
As South Korea hunted the goal that would take them through to a potential knockout clash with Brazil, Son looked poised to score with one chance on the right but his shot was brilliantly blocked by Antonio Silva.
However, the Tottenham forward was not to be denied a key role in the winner and once again showed why he has been Asian Footballer of the Year seven times as his unbreakable spirit put South Korea into the knockout rounds for only the third time in 11 appearances.
The weight of his ball and the timing of the run was perfect from Hwang as he escaped from the retreating Bernardo Silva to slide his finish beyond Costa.
Remarkably, following Hwang's winner, four of South Republic's last seven goals at the World Cup have been scored in the 90th minute or later of the second half.
News filtered through to the Uruguayans that they needed one more goal as nine minutes were played at the Al Janoub Stadium - but there was to be no further dramatic twist.
Sky Sports' Ben Grounds:
"With an average age of 27 years and 198 days, this was the youngest Portugal side named for a World Cup game since 1966 against the USSR - albeit one containing a 37-year-old Ronaldo - but take nothing away from this triumph for South Korea.
"Ji-Sung Park's place in the pantheon of Asian football is unquestioned - and it was he scored the winning goal over the Portuguese back in 2002, when South Korea co-hosted the tournament and advanced as group winners.
"It was only his 10th goal for his country and first at a World Cup, but you can add Hwang's name to that glittering cast as South Korea booked their spot in the knockout stages for the first time since 2010.
"Hwang's last goal for Wolves came against Arsenal way back in February. The forward went 26 appearances without breaking his drought at club level, which explains why he was omitted from the starting line-up by Paulo Bento - who watched on from the stands through suspension.
"A 66th-minute substitute, these were his first minutes of football in Qatar and first of any kind since playing for Wolves against Leeds in the Carabao Cup on November 9.
"Son Heung-min remains without a goal at this World Cup but he ran himself into the ground.
"A day after Japan set the tone by stunning Spain 2-1 in their final game to reach the knockout phase on a night of mind-boggling drama, Son made sure South Korea's fans could kick-start their own party in the Education City Stadium.
"The Asian side simply refused to accept that their World Cup dream was over and it was captain Son who epitomised the Koreans' relentless energy with a selfless display, typified by his role in the goal for Hwang, whose late intervention means he will be the toast of Seoul all weekend."
South Korea and Uruguay have four points with the same goal difference but Korea went through to the knockout stage by virtue of scoring four goals to the two of Uruguay, who before Friday were the only team in the tournament not to have scored.
"I've been waiting for this moment a long time and I believed we could get it done," said Son, appearing in his third World Cup.
"I have not been doing a good job as their captain, but my team mates have covered my back. I am so thankful for them and so proud of them. They never gave up and made sacrifices for the team."
Goalscorer Hwang added: "It was difficult waiting for it. But we proved once again we could make it to the knock-out phase, and we maintained that trust and continued with our match. This is something we wanted and expected, so I would like to share these feelings with all the Korean people back at home."
South Korea assistant head coach Sergio Costa [asked how this side compares to the 2002 team]: "I can't compare these two teams. I watched the World Cup in 2002 on TV, I didn't know the Korean players personally. Since we started working with them I could watch a few games in the past but I can't make a comparison.
"What it is now, is a team very well-organised, with players who have high individual skills. That's something we want to continue to develop. We want to hone their skills to improve them game after game.
"We move forward, focusing on individual games, our defence, but also on our attack. That's something we are very much proud of. We see those players with strong personalities, they deserve the result. They deserve what we have accomplished."
Portugal head coach Fernando Santos: "We needed to be more forceful when playing Korea. We tried to explore several strategies to counter the Korean squad, we were focusing on the different wingers and full-back. We created several opportunities on goal, we could have scored more.
"We needed to correct our mistakes in the first 20 minutes, have more quick passes and were were having some difficulties and needed to better our game to finish. After that, we lost our organisation. Korea were controlling the game, we lost focus and our players were motivated but we conceded a goal when they were counter-attacking.
"That's normal in any part of the tournament, it can happen. Therefore, we are somewhat upset. We are first in the group but wanted to win and have a better game in order to increase the morale of the players. That said, I don't think they will be unmotivated, they are playing well and I trust my team. That serves as a warning for us though."
Portugal top the group on six points while South Korea join them having finished second in Group H. Uruguay are eliminated despite their victory over Ghana.
Portugal will now face runners-up of Group G, Switzerland, on Tuesday December 6 - Kick-off 7pm.
South Korea take on Group G winners Brazil on Monday December 5 - Kick-off 7pm.