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South Korea vs Portugal: Talking points from Son Heung-min's men's stunning victory over Ronaldo and co

The South Korean team erupted with joy when they learned they had qualified, as it was their first appearance in the last 16 since 2010.

South Korean players celebrate their win over Portugal. (Image: Twitter/theKFA)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Dec 2, 2022 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

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South Korean fans had the best time at the 2022 FIFA World Cup this year, as they defeated an in-form Portugal side 2-1 on Friday to advance to the round of 16. Kim Young-gwon and Hwang Hee-chan each scored one goal to advance their team to the knockout stages at the Education City Stadium. South Korea’s qualification was contingent on the Uruguay-Ghana match, which ended 2-0 in favour of the South Americans. Despite having the same number of points and goal difference, the Asian nation advanced because they scored more goals in the competition’s group stage.

Ricardo Horta scored Portugal’s first goal of the match in the fifth minute, but Kim Young-gwon equalised a little more than 20 minutes later to pull the Koreans back into the game. After that, the game was back and forth, with the Portuguese having the lion’s share of possession. The two teams had 13 shots and six shots on target, respectively.

South Korea broke away on the counter from a Portugal corner in the first minute of stoppage time, setting off the drama. Son Heung-min received the ball in his own half and ran almost the entire length of the field before playing an inch-perfect pass to Hwang Hee-chan, who made no mistakes when confronted by Diogo Costa.

The stadium erupted after the game, but Korean fans had to wait for the outcome of the Ghana-Uruguay match. The South Korean team erupted with joy when they learned they had qualified, as it was their first appearance in the last 16 since 2010. Here are some of the talking points from the match.

Son’s experience pays dividends

Son Heung-min is arguably the best player in the South Korean team at the moment. It is not just his skills with the ball or his speed that take him to that level. What makes him all the more special is his decision making abilities in pressure situations.

Against Portugal, in second half stoppage time, Son had come out of his half with the ball knowing that one goal would take his team through to the last 16. As he came close to the Portuguese penalty box, he had two options: pass it to Hwang Hee-chan or go for glory.

A lot of players, including veterans would go for the latter as the thought of being a hero would cloud their judgement. However, Son realized that he was too far out for a shot and that there was not long left in the match. So, he passed it to Hwang who was in a better position and scored the all-important goal that took South Korea through.

Portugal looked clueless upfront

Despite scoring in the fifth minute of the match, Portugal’s attacking performance was woeful to say the least. The team had a ton of opportunities to extend their lead but they simply lacked the finishing in the final third. Cristiano Ronaldo looked like a shadow of his past self as opposition defenders often bullied him off the ball with ease. Things will be quite tough if Portugal’s form in front of goal does not improve going forward.

South Korea’s team spirit unbreakable

In the face of defeat and potential elimination, the South Koreans stood their ground as one and churned out a result that a lot of other teams at the world cup would not have been able to against an opponent like Portugal. Their team spirit is indeed commendable and something they will hope to rely on in the knockout stages.



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