Copy of 2024-01-30T192855Z_964368485_UP1EK1U1I44D0_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ASIANCUP-SAU-KOR-REPORT-1706644402982
South Korea players celebrate a goal during the penalty shootout during the AFC Asian Cup match against Saudi Arabia at Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar on Tuesday. Image Credit: Reuters

Doha: Son Heung-min’s South Korea came back from the dead to beat Saudi Arabia 4-2 on penalties on Tuesday and set up an Asian Cup quarter-final with Australia.

After a nail-biting game ended 1-1, Hwang Hee-chan scored the decisive penalty for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side, who are aiming to end a 64-year Asian Cup title drought.

South Korea goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo was the hero in Doha, saving penalties from Sami Al Najei and Abdulrahman Ghareeb in the shootout.

Saudi coach Roberto Mancini disappeared down the tunnel before Hwang took the final penalty.

Cho Gue-sung scored a 99th-minute equaliser in normal time to rescue the Koreans and force extra time.

Abdullah Radif had opened the scoring for the Saudi team 33 seconds after coming on as a half-time substitute.

Tense encounter

Saudi Pro League sides have shelled out to lure big-name players while Saudi Arabia is set to host the 2034 World Cup, all part of a broader move into global sport.

But they are now out of the Asian Cup after a tense encounter in front of over 40,000 fans at Education City Stadium.

Klinsmann dropped the misfiring Cho to the bench and started with Son at the point of South Korea’s attack.

Chances were at a premium in a cagey opening period, with the Saudi defence quick to snuff out the threat when Son got his first chance to stretch his legs.

Ahmed Al-Kassar made a comfortable save when the Spurs striker threatened again, before Saleh Al-Shehri pulled a shot wide at the other end after South Korea had given possession away cheaply.

The Saudis had the best chance of the first half when they came agonisingly close to hitting the target with three headers in quick succession.

Shehri hit the crossbar and Ali Lajami did the same with the rebound, before Salem Al-Dawsari finally nodded the ball just wide of the post.

Dominating show

The second half had barely kicked off when substitute Radif made his mark.

Dawsari redirected a pass into the path of Radif and the substitute lashed the ball past Jo.

Klinsmann brought on Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Hwang in the 54th minute as South Korea looked for a response.

Klinsmann’s side threw everything at the Saudi team in a frantic end to the 90 minutes and Cho hit the bar with an injury-time header.

The striker got his reward in the 99th minute, nodding home to send the game into extra time.

South Korea dominated both periods of extra time but were guilty of over-elaborating and could not put the ball in the net.