Asia AFC Asian Cup

Captain Son Carries South Korea into Asian Cup Semifinals

Captain Son Heung-min propelled South Korea into the semi-finals of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup last Friday, single-handedly turning the tide with by winning dramatic injury-time penalty and scoring an astonishing extra-time free-kick, securing a thrilling 2-1 comeback victory over Australia at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur talisman Son revived the Taeguk Warriors‘ hopes after Craig Goodwin had initially given Australia a 42nd minute lead with a close-range volley. Jurgen Klinsmann’s South Korean side is set to clash with underdogs Jordan at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday, vying for a place in the tournament final, with the Jordanians having eliminated fellow dark horses Tajikistan in their own quarterfinal match on the same day.

In the dying moments of injury time, Son was brought down by Lewis Miller, leading to a crucial penalty that Hwang Hee-chan converted, leveling the score. Then, in the 14th minute of extra time, Son showcased his trademark skill by curling a magnificent free-kick over the wall that sealed the win.

Australia’s hopes were squashed further when substitute Aiden O’Neill received a red card for a dangerous tackle on Hwang late in the first period of extra time.

Klinsmann’s team had dominated the early stages of the match, but struggled to break through Australia’s defense. However, a crucial error from Hwang In-beom just before halftime allowed Goodwin to capitalize, giving Australia the lead.

Despite Australia’s early dominance in the second half, South Korea rallied, continuously testing their opponents’ defense. However, Australia held strong, with players like Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles thwarting numerous Taeguk Warriors attacks.

As the game progressed, Australia remained dangerous on the counterattack, with South Korean goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo making crucial saves to keep his side in the game. However, South Korea’s relentless pressure finally paid off in injury time when Son’s perseverance earned them a penalty that allowed them to equalize the score.

Son then delivered the decisive blow, capitalizing on a foul on Hwang outside the box to score a brilliant right-footed shot, securing South Korea’s victory and igniting celebrations among the team and their supporters.