A night after Japan toppled Spain and topped their group, neighbours South Korea pulled off another upset, beating Portugal to advance to the knockout stages at the expense of Uruguay and stretching the theme. of the Asian push in the World Cup on another crazy night. drama.
It seemed like a lost cause for South Korea against Portugal, featuring not only Cristiano Ronaldo but also an array of Europe’s most beloved players. The task seemed more difficult when Portugal scored in the fifth minute through Lus Ricardo Horta.
In the 20 minutes that followed, Portugal could have scored several times had it not been for the courage of the Koreans, who defended valiantly, putting everything on the line. Perseverance was rewarded when Kim Young-Gwon equalized in the 27th minute
For the next 63 minutes, they had to score another goal, prevent Portugal from regaining the lead and hope that group rivals Uruguay would not add to the two goals they had scored in the opening 32 minutes. against Ghana in the other game. In the stands, Korean fans, who had turned out in droves with those ubiquitous horns on their heads, could be seen frantically checking the scores for the Portugal-Ghana match.
For a moment, it looked like the night might not be Korea’s as a goal slipped past them. But they did not give up, like the Japanese the other night against Spain. They continued to storm the Portuguese goalmouth and, 31 seconds into stoppage time, found a source of hope in the desert town.
The goal was born from their talisman Heung-min Son’s stunning run to Portugal. Once inside the Portugal post, he slipped a perfect pass to Hwang Hee-Chan, who was running from the shadows. The Koreans on the ground, in the dugout and the stands, and probably in the country, jumped for joy.
But they had six minutes of added time to pass and pray that Ghana would prevent Uruguay from scoring another goal. For the Ghanaians in their grudge match against Uruguay, the best thing other than winning was depriving Uruguay of a knockout spot. They defended hard and held Uruguay at bay, making it the third time that three teams from the Asian confederation have reached the round of 16 (Japan, Korea and Australia, which is considered part of the Asian qualifying system ).