MELBOURNE, Australia — South Korea reached the Asian Cup semifinals after Son Heung-min scored two goals in extra time in a tough 2-0 win over Uzbekistan.
Kim Jin-su's long centering pass from just outside the area was deflected by the Uzbekistan defense and into the path of Son, who headed the ball past diving goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov 16 minutes into extra time.
After more than 120 minutes of an intense match, substitute defender Cha Du-ri beat two Uzbek defenders as he dribbled the ball toward the area before passing to Son, who calmly drove it into the net.
South Korea, which reached the quarterfinals after topping its group, will next face the winner of the Iran vs. Iraq quarterfinal played Friday in Canberra.
"We knew that the team that loses today, tomorrow is on a plane back to his home country," South Korea coach Uli Stielike said. "So hence, for us if we don't go through the semifinals, for sure we'll have a lot of critics at home.
"I think that pressure was our main problem in the first half," the former West Germany international added. "When we came out in the second half we were much calmer, there were much less unforced errors ... and I think from 91 minutes on, there was only one team on the pitch."
Both sides focused on attack in an evenly matched game in front of a raucous sellout crowd of over 25,000 at Melbourne's Rectangular stadium.
"It was a very interesting and beautiful game," Uzbekistan coach Uzbek boss Mirjalol Qosimov said. "Because of how unlucky we are, we are very disappointed.
"We could have scored many, many goals but luck was not on our side," he added.
Nesterov produced some inspired goalkeeping in the first half as the South Koreans missed four clear chances in the space of two minutes. After blocking a close-range shot by Nam Tae-hee in the 26th, Nesterov raced back into goal and leapt to tip a Son strike over the bar.
Ki Sung-yueng came close again a minute later when his shot from inside the box drifted too far right, and again in the 27th when his shot narrowly missed its target.
"Tonight we saw a lot of different phases in 120 minutes. ... Our main objective was to bring the mentality and the conviction which we played against Australia to this game," Stielike said. "But one more time we saw in the first half that we had a lot of mental problems when we play under a lot of pressure."
The second half featured a series of squandered chances, punctuated by three missed opportunities from Uzbekistan midfielder Lutfulla Turaev — including an off target header at an empty goal in the 78th.
South Korean defender Kwak Tae-hwi came close in the 82nd with a header from inside the box that narrowly missed the goal.
The intensity remained throughout extra time with both teams probing each other's goal area to no avail until Kim and Son combined to force a rare lapse in the Uzbek defense.
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