Sunday, March 3, 2024

South Korea salvage late draw with Jordan

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Jordan were denied a first ever victory over South Korea when a 91st-minute own goal from Yazan Al-Arab gifted their opponents a 2-2 draw in their second Asian Cup Group ‘E’ game at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.

The result leaves both teams on four points from two games and opens up the group after Bahrain moved up to three points with a late winner in a 1-0 victory over Malaysia in the other group encounter.

South Korea had taken the lead with a penalty from Son Heung-min, but an own goal from Park Yong-Woo and a long-range strike from Yazan Al-Naimat made it 2-1 to Jordan before the own goal denied the Arab nation a landmark win.

“Overall 2-2 is a fair result and gives both teams a chance to win the group,” South Korea coach Juergen Klinsmann told reporters. “We took the tempo out of the game after going 1-0 up and lost battles on the field to Jordan, which made it difficult. But those are the games you learn a lot from. Going into the next round is a high priority, but it was a very intense game.”

Son was brought down in the box by Ihsan Haddad in the fourth minute. The Tottenham Hotspur forward stepped up to take the penalty but had to wait five minutes as the referee checked the replay and conferred with the VAR team. He then kept his cool amid a crescendo of boos from Jordanian fans to score with a chipped effort down the middle.

South Korea had their first choice goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a knee injury and his replacement Jo Hyeon-Woo was beaten in the 37th minute when Park headed the ball into his own net as he attempted to prevent centre back Al-Arab from scoring for Jordan.

Jordan continued to pile on the pressure and just before halftime Al-Naimat volleyed into the bottom corner to silence the South Korean fans.

South Korea upped the ante in the second half but it took a full 45 minutes before they finally found an equaliser when Hwang In-beom’s shot was diverted into the net by Al-Arab.

South Korea nearly won it in the ninth minute of added time when the ball fell to Hong Hyun-seok at the far post on a set piece but the midfielder’s shot found the side netting.

“It is normal to make mistakes at the beginning and the end of the match, South Korea took excellent technical decisions in attack,” Jordan coach Hussein Ammouta said. “We spared no effort to preserve the result. Eventually we think it’s a positive result. What’s most important is the confidence and high spirits that will allow us to go forward [in the tournament].”

Bahrain took all three points from a nervy encounter with Malaysia to boost their qualification hopes when Ali Madan scored a 95th-minute winner.

Madan used the outside of his boot to shoot from the edge of the box, with his strike going through a crowd of defenders and beating the keeper to spark wild celebrations in the dugout while some of his team mates collapsed on the pitch in relief.

On Friday, Iran booked their place in the Asian Cup last 16 when they beat Hong Kong 1-0 in a Group ‘C’ game at the Khalifa International Stadium where Mehdi Ghayedi scored the winner.

The result moved Iran to six points at the top of the group where they will be guaranteed a top-two finish. They sit two points above the United Arab Emirates while Palestine are third with one point.

Iran broke the deadlock in the 24th minute when Milad Mohammadi released Ghayedi into the box where the 25-year-old took his shot from a tight angle and beat the keeper as he guided the ball into the far bottom corner.

Hong Kong, who made their return to the Asian Cup after 56 years and are 129 spots below Iran in the rankings, remain winless and are bottom with no points after losing to UAE in their group opener.

Iran play UAE on Tuesday in their final group game which will effectively decide who tops the table and gets a more favourable draw in the knockout stage.

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