Korea Rep 2 – 1 Portugal

South Korea dramatically reached the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup on goals scored after Hee-Chan Hwang struck a 91st-minute winner to beat Portugal 2-1 in Al Rayyan.

Only twice before in their history had South Korea advanced to the knockout stages of the World Cup, but Wolves forward Hwang came off the bench to send reverberations from the Education City Stadium to Seoul in dramatic fashion as he latched onto Heung-Min Son’s pass to slot past Diogo Costa (90+1).

Portugal, already qualified for the last 16 and needing only a draw to be sure of top spot in the group, grabbed the lead with a fifth-minute goal from Ricardo Horta, who met a Diogo Dalot cross and hammered it home from close range.

South Korea's Woo-young Jung celebrates after his team's 2-1 victory over Portugal
Woo-Young Jung lets his emotions show

Young-Gwon Kim gave the Taeguk Warriors a lifeline after pouncing on a bouncing ball in the goalmouth and hooking it into the net (27).

Uruguay were beating Ghana 2-0, meaning South Korea needed only to beat Portugal to reach the last 16 on goals scored – and in the first minute of stoppage time, Hwang obliged.

The last-gasp victory for South Korea catapulted them from fourth to second place in Group H ahead of Uruguay, who failed to score enough goals to finish above the Asians.

Hwang Hee-Chan scored a famous 90th minute winner
Hwang’s last goal came for Wolves at Arsenal way back in February

Player ratings

South Korea: Seung-Gyu Kim (6), Moon-Hwan Kim (6), Kyung-Won Kwon (6), Young-Gwon Kim (7), Jin-Su Kim (7), Jung, In-Beom Hwang (6), Kang-In Lee (6), Jae-Sung Lee (5), Heung-Min Son (7), Gue-Sung Cho (6).

Subs: Hee-Chan Hwang (7), Jun-Ho Son (n/a), Eui-Jo Hwang (n/a).

Portugal: Costa (6), Dalot (8), Pepe (6), Silva (7), Joao Cancelo (7), Matheus Luiz (6), Neves (7), Vitinha (7), Joao Mario (6), Ronaldo (6), Ricardo Horta (7).

Subs: Joao Palhinha (6), Andre Silva (6), Bernardo Silva (n/a), William Carvalho (n/a), Leao (6).

Man of the match: Diogo Dalot.

Big moments in the game…

  • 5 min: Portugal grab the lead with a fifth minute goal from Ricardo Horta
  • 27 min: Korea equalise off a corner with Kim pouncing on a bouncing ball in the goalmouth and hooking it into the net
  • 44 min: Horta swivels and shoots straight at Seung-Gyu Kim
  • 65 min: Ronaldo, Neves and Nunes come off in a triple switch for Portugal. Andre Silva, Leao and Palhinha replace them
  • 90+1 min: Son Heung-min runs free after a Portugal corner in added time and slips a pass to Hwang Hee-chan to score

South Korea summon spirit of 2002 to advance

South Korea players celebrate after Hee-Chan Hwang scores their match-winning goal
South Korea players celebrate after Hwang’s 91st-minute strike

There were stunning scenes on the pitch at the Education City Stadium as the South Korean players waited in a huddle on the pitch with a smartphone, witnessing the final knockings of the Uruguay game with Ghana, praying for no more goals.

There were tears when the final whistle went in the game taking place simultaneously across Doha, sending the Korean players and fans delirious. Both they and Japan are into the round of 16, with South Korea now likely to face Brazil on Monday.

Team news

  • Captain Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal’s attack against South Korea at the World Cup on Friday despite having to train separately from the rest of the team this week but Fernando Santos made six changes to the side that beat Uruguay on Monday.
  • Portugal, needing only a draw to be sure of top spot in Group H and mindful of the risk of yellow-card suspensions in the next round, brought Diogo Dalot and Antonio Silva into the defence.
  • Matheus Nunes, Vitinha and Joao Mario come into the midfield in place of Bernardo Silva, William Carvalho and Bruno Fernandes – who scored twice in the 2-0 win over Uruguay – while Ricardo Horta replaces Joao Felix up front.
  • South Korea’s Portuguese coach Paulo Bento left out central defender Kim Min-jae, who was an injury doubt, and replaced him with Kwon Kyung-won, while Lee Jae-sung and Lee Kang-in were drafted into midfield.

Portugal, needing only a draw to be sure of top spot in Group H and mindful of the risk of yellow-card suspensions in the next round, made six changes and Horta – one of those alterations – gave Fernando Santos’ men the perfect start inside three minutes.

Dalot, also recalled by Santos, darted in behind the South Korea left-back Jin-Su Kim and the Manchester United defender picked out Horta for his second international goal.

Portugal's Ricardo Horta (centre left) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring
Portugal’s Ricardo Horta (centre left) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring

It means Dalot has now been directly involved in four goals across his last three appearances for Portugal in all competitions (two goals, two assists), scoring or assisting in each match.

The Koreans, with one point heading into the contest, had to beat Portugal and hope the result of Ghana’s match with Uruguay went their way in order to reach the last 16 – and moments after news had filtered through of a second goal for the South Americans, it was Kim who levelled.

Portugal failed to clear a corner as the ball struck the back of Cristiano Ronaldo and fell kindly for Kim, who scored at the 2018 World Cup against Germany, and the defender had the simple task of tapping home.

Ronaldo, seeking a goal to equal Portugal’s overall World Cup record of nine scored by the great Eusebio, had his first chance just after the half-hour mark with a solo effort which Kim Seung-gyu saved and he was in any case offside.

Young-Kwon Kim levels for South Korea
Young-Gwon Kim gave the Koreans hope with an equaliser

The Portugal captain had another one-on-one with Kim but his effort was too weak to trouble the keeper and he was given a rest in the 65th minute when replaced by striker Andre Silva.

As South Korea hunted the goal that would take them through to a potential knockout clash with Brazil, Son looked poised to score with one chance on the right but his shot was brilliantly blocked by Antonio Silva.

However, the Tottenham forward was not to be denied a key role in the winner and once again showed why he has been Asian Footballer of the Year seven times as his unbreakable spirit put South Korea into the knockout rounds for only the third time in 11 appearances.

South Korea celebrate at full time after defeating Portugal to progress to the Round of 16 in Qatar
South Korea celebrate at full time after defeating Portugal

The weight of his ball and the timing of the run was perfect from Hwang as he escaped from the retreating Bernardo Silva to slide his finish beyond Costa.

Remarkably, following Hwang’s winner, four of South Republic’s last seven goals at the World Cup have been scored in the 90th minute or later of the second half.

News filtered through to the Uruguayans that they needed one more goal as nine minutes were played at the Al Janoub Stadium – but there was to be no further dramatic twist.

Relentless Son drives South Korea into last 16

South Korea last qualified for the knockouts in 2010
South Korea last qualified for the knockouts in 2010

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

“With an average age of 27 years and 198 days, this was the youngest Portugal side named for a World Cup game since 1966 against the USSR – albeit one containing a 37-year-old Ronaldo – but take nothing away from this triumph for South Korea.

“Ji-Sung Park’s place in the pantheon of Asian football is unquestioned – and it was he scored the winning goal over the Portuguese back in 2002, when South Korea co-hosted the tournament and advanced as group winners.

“It was only his 10th goal for his country and first at a World Cup, but you can add Hwang’s name to that glittering cast as South Korea booked their spot in the knockout stages for the first time since 2010.

“Hwang’s last goal for Wolves came against Arsenal way back in February. The forward went 26 appearances without breaking his drought at club level, which explains why he was omitted from the starting line-up by Paulo Bento.

South Korea's players celebrate after qualifying for the Round of 16 with a 2-1 defeat of Portugal
Next up for South Korea are the winners of Group G

“A 66th-minute substitute, these were his first minutes of football in Qatar and first of any kind since playing for Wolves against Leeds in the Carabao Cup on November 9.

“Son Heung-min remains without a goal at this World Cup but he ran himself into the ground.

“A day after Japan set the tone by stunning Spain 2-1 in their final game to reach the knockout phase on a night of mind-boggling drama, Son made sure South Korea’s fans could kick-start their own party in the Education City Stadium.

The Asian side simply refused to accept that their World Cup dream was over and it was captain Son who epitomised the Koreans’ relentless energy with a selfless display, typified by his role in the goal for Hwang, whose late intervention means he will be the toast of Seoul all weekend.”

Portugal finish top but lose record – Opta stats

South Korea's Young-Gwon Kim scores their equaliser
Kim’s goal was his second in World Cup matches following a strike against Germany in 2018

  • Portugal have lost a World Cup game in which they opened the scoring for the very first time (P18 W15 D3 before today), while Korea Republic have won a World Cup game in which they conceded first for the first time since 2006 against Togo (winless in 10 such matches before today).
  • Korea Republic have progressed beyond the first round group stage at the World Cup for just a third time (also in 2002 & 2010) in what is their 11th appearance at the tournament.
  • Despite today’s defeat, Portugal have finished top of their World Cup group (first round only) for a third time, previously doing so in 1966 and in 2006 (reaching the semi-final at both of those tournaments).
  • Portugal are the only side Korea Republic have beaten twice at the World Cup.
  • Korea Republic’s Portuguese manager Paulo Bento has become the first manager to win a World Cup game against a country he’s from since Milovan Rajevac in 2010 (Ghana 1-0 Serbia).

What does the result mean?

Portugal players celebrate after scoring inside three minutes
Portugal looked on course for a third win after Ricardo Horta gave them the lead

Portugal top the group on six points while South Korea join them having finished second in Group H. Uruguay are eliminated despite their victory over Ghana.

Portugal will now face the runners-up of Group G, who are currently Switzerland, on Tuesday December 6 – Kick-off 7pm.

South Korea are likely to take on Group G winners Brazil on Monday December 5 – Kick-off 7pm.

What else is happening at the World Cup on Friday?

South Korea's Young-Gwon Kim scores their equaliser
The game was level at 1-1 at half-time

  • Cameroon vs Brazil – Kick Off 7pm
  • Serbia vs Switzerland – Kick Off 7pm

With two wins from two, Brazil are through to the last 16 – although they still require a point to be absolutely sure of group winners status. But who will progress with them? Cameroon, Switzerland and Serbia still have hope.

Simply because they must face Brazil in their final fixture, Cameroon’s route to the last four looks the hardest – but, that said, a win against Brazil should be enough for qualification even if Switzerland reach four points with a draw against Serbia, so long as the draw is a low-scoring encounter (Cameroon’s current goal difference is minus 1, Switzerland’s is level, but Cameroon have scored more goals).

But provided Cameroon don’t shock Brazil on Friday night, and only a win could be enough for the Africans to reach the knockout stage, then the stage is set for a winner-takes-all clash between Switzerland and Serbia which Serbia have to win to progress while Switzerland will only require a point to secure qualification.

Were Cameroon and Serbia to both win, they would finish level on points and the runners-up berth would be determined by goal difference. Serbia’s is currently minus 2.

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