18+ | Please play responsibly | Terms and Conditions apply | Commercial Content

AFC Asian Cup: South Korea beats Saudi Arabia to qualify for quarter-finals

Saudi Arabia v South Korea: Round Of 16 – AFC Asian Cup The players from South Korea are celebrating after winning the penalty shoot-out in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 round of 16 match between Saudi Arabia and South Korea at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on January 30, 2023. DOHA Qatar; Copyright: IMAGO

In a gripping Round of 16 match at the AFC Asian Cup 2023, South Korea emerged victorious over Saudi Arabia in a dramatic penalty shootout, clinching a 4-2 win after the game was drawn 1-1 even after the extra time. The high stakes showdown took place at Education City Stadium on Tuesday, propelling South Korea into the much-anticipated quarter-finals.

The game witnessed a tense moment when Saudi Arabia almost secured their spot in the next phase as Abdullah Radif found the back of the net right after halftime, at the 46-minute mark. Nonetheless, the tides turned in the dying minutes of the match when Cho Gue-sung struck an equalizer during the second-half stoppage time, extending the game into extra time.

Despite the additional play period, both squads failed to tip the balance, which brought about the decisive penalty shootout. Jo Hyeon-woo, South Korea’s goalkeeper, turned out to be the linchpin, making crucial saves from Sami Al Naji and Abdulrah. Ultimately, Hwang Hee-chan netted the decisive strike, concluding the shootout with South Korea ahead by two goals.

During regular play, Saudi Arabia squandered several scoring opportunities in the initial half—missing key headers from corner kicks and experiencing the dismay of seeing one shot fiercely repelled by Jo. South Korea reciprocated with offensive attempts of their own as Son Heung-min broke free toward the goal on a couple of occasions, yet failed to capitalize.

The road ahead for South Korea holds no respite, as they face a physically demanding quarter-final bout. After enduring 120 minutes of play and a taxing shootout, they meet Australia—the 2015 champions—shortly after, with their clash set for Friday.

Australia, on their path to the quarter-finals, delivered a dominant performance against Indonesia in the Round of 16, securing a 4-0 victory. The Socceroos, topping Group B courtesy of two wins and a draw against Uzbekistan, present a formidable challenge. As they prepare to square off, South Korea will require peak form to navigate past the well-rounded Australian side and continue their journey in the tournament. Australia has the upper hand in its rivalry with South Korea, boasting four victories out of seven matchups. The South Koreans have managed a solitary win against the Australians, with the balance being two draws.

In recent sports developments, Uzbekistan claimed a 2-1 victory over Thailand, progressing to the next stage of the championship. The decisive moment came with Abbosbek Fayzullayev finding the net in the 65th minute, which was a swift response to Thailand leveling the score only minutes before.

Uzbekistan initially took the lead thanks to Azizbek Turgunboev. His goal materialized in the 37th minute from Diyor Kholmatov’s incisive pass, beating the Thai goalkeeper Patiwat Khammai with a precise finish.

The equalizer for Thailand was a moment of brilliance from Supachok Sarachat, who delivered a stunning goal in the 58th minute from a distance.

Despite not having secured an Asian Cup title to their name, Uzbekistan has frequently shown their strength by reaching the quarterfinals five times out of the last six tournaments. Their standout achievement came in 2011 upon reaching the semifinals.

Uzbekistan is scheduled to face the tournament hosts, Qatar, this Saturday at Al Bayt Stadium in a bid to clinch a semifinal berth. Qatar has exhibited formidable form by sweeping their group stage matches and defeating Palestine 2-1 in the Round of 16. While Uzbekistan enters as the underdog, their performances suggest they could indeed stage an upset.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s quest in the tournament saw them clinch a thrilling 3-2 victory against Iraq, securing a quarterfinal spot. The win was marred by a touch of controversy due to a second yellow card shown to Aymen Hussein by referee Alireza Faghani, which influenced the match’s outcome. The match took a dramatic turn when a red card was issued due to Iraq’s exuberant celebration after their second goal, forcing them to continue the remainder of the match with only 10 players.

Before the teams left for halftime, Yazan Al-Naimat struck a goal to give his side an edge. However, the dynamic shifted in the second half as Saad Natiq and Aymen Hussein both found the net, propelling Iraq into the lead with a score of 2-1.

The game’s balance altered again after Hussein received a red card. Yazan Al-Arab capitalized on the team’s superior numbers, scoring the equalizer deep into stoppage time.

The match intensity peaked as Jordan’s Hamza Al-Dardour also received a sending off, balancing the teams at 10 players each. Nizar Al-Rashdan stepped up to claim a dramatic victory with a goal in the 97th minute.

Looking ahead, Jordan is preparing for a tough quarterfinal bout against Tajikistan on Friday. Tajikistan earned their spot in this contest following a nail-biting penalty shootout that saw them past the United Arab Emirates.