South Korea advanced to the Asian Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 extra-time win over Australia at Al Janoub Stadium after Son Heung-min scored the winner on a sublime free kick.
Australia beat South Korea by the same score in extra time in the 2015 final to win their first Asian Cup. But in Friday’s match, it was the East Asian team who came out on top after scoring another goal in stoppage time to force extra time.
Australia had taken the lead just before half-time by intelligently switching flanks with neat passing into the box. Then a cross from Australian player Nathaniel Atkinson found teammate Craig Goodwin, who had time to set 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 it. Meanwhile, Mitchell Duke’s volley off the rebound went over the bar to give South Korea a reprieve.
South Korean coach Jürgen Klinsmann made a tactical change in the second half, pushing Son further. The strategy worked when Son, a Tottenham Hotspur striker, was fouled in the box by Australian Lewis Miller in the fourth minute of injury time.
Hwang Hee-chan stepped up: the Wolverhampton Wanderers striker took his time to calm his nerves before blasting his effort into the top corner to force extra time – their fourth goal after the 90th minute of the tournament.
It was South Korea’s second straight game in overtime, after beating Saudi Arabia on penalties. This time, Hwang won a free kick at the edge of the area following another foul conceded by Miller.
Son stepped forward and saw his effort go 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 major 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 overtime where they couldn’t. find an equalizer.