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AFC Asian Cup

AFC Asian Cup 2023: Korea Republic cruise into semis with epic comeback win over Australia

Published at :February 3, 2024 at 12:24 AM
Modified at :February 3, 2024 at 12:24 AM
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(Courtesy : AFC)

Atawaris Warsi

Son Heung-min scored the winner.

In a highly anticipated clash between Australia and South Korea, the Korean Republic emerged victorious, securing a thrilling win with a late penalty by Hwang Hee-chan and a perfect free kick from their star talisman and captain, Son Heung-min in the 104th minute of the extra time. The Al Janoub stadium was ablaze with vibrant energy, particularly fueled by the passionate Korean fans. 

Australia’s journey to the AFC Asian Cup 2023 quarterfinals included a commanding 4-0 triumph over Indonesia, showcasing their offensive prowess. On the other hand, South Korea advanced after a nail-biting last-16 encounter, triumphing over Saudi Arabia in a penalty shootout. 

Graham Arnold implemented four changes in the lineup for Australia’s clash with South Korea. Injuries prompted adjustments, with Nathaniel Atkinson replacing the injured Gethin Jones at right-back, and Mitch Duke taking the front spot from Bruno Fornaroli. In the attacking midfield, Connor Metcalfe and Craig Goodwin started over Riley McGree and Jordy Bos. Meanwhile, South Korea made three changes, introducing Park Yong-woo, Cho Gue-sung, and Hwang Hee-chan after their penalty victory over Saudi Arabia.

South Korea enjoyed robust support, with cheers echoing around the venue whenever a Korean player had possession. Drums added to the lively atmosphere. Tensions flared during Australia-Korea skirmishes, drawing boos and whistles from the crowd. It all went a bit silent after Australia scored the lone goal just before half time, but the overwhelming support from their fans ensured South Korea broke through the resilient Australian defense. 

Despite possessing only 30% of the ball in the first half, Australia showcased exceptional defensive prowess, preventing Korea from registering a single shot on or off target. While Australia’s play may have lacked flair, their street-smart approach was evident. Despite a missed opportunity by Connor Metcalfe, Craig Goodwin’s technically adept volley secured Australia’s lead, marking their most impressive 45 minutes in the tournament.

Australia, moments away from the semi-final, saw their lead erased as Hwang scored a superb penalty, smashing it high into the net. Recalling the 2015 final and their recent match against Saudi Arabia, South Korea once again equalised in added time, this time after Son was fouled, setting the stage for an intense extra time.

In a twist from the 2015 final, it wasn’t Son Heung Min taking the decisive penalty for the equaliser; instead he delivered a perfect free-kick, securing Korea Republic’s lead in the first half of extra time. The tables turned as Son showcased his prowess, putting his team ahead and adding a new chapter to the unfolding drama of this intense match.

The first half was all about Australia but Korea Republic’s resilience and never giving attitude to come back and seal the victory late secured them a berth in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup semi finals, where they will be taking on Jordan. 

Final Score: Australia 1-2 Korea Republic’s

Goals: Craig Goodwin(42’), Hwang Hee-Chan(90+6’) Son Heung-Min(104’)

This match will be remembered as one of the finest examples of resilience, proving that in football, you’re not out until the referee blows the final whistle.

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