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AFC Asian Cup: South Korea beat Saudi Arabia on penalties to reach quarters

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Doha: South Korea advanced to the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal on Tuesday night with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Saudi Arabia at Education City Stadium.

After the two sides settled for a 1-1 draw at the end of 120 minutes, goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo became the hero for South Korea as he saved Saudi’s third and fourth penalties.

Hwang Hee-chan, the forward from Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers, struck into the winning penalty to help his side book a last-eight berth where they will face Australia on Friday.

It was the heavyweight clash in round of 16 with both sides combining to claim the title five times.

“We have to believe that we can beat Saudi Arabia, but it will be a lot of hard work, it will be nail biter and it might go to a penalty shootout,” said the head coach Jurgen Klinsmann before the match.

“Anything can happen in football, you cannot predict what will be next,” the 1990 FIFA World Cup winner added.

Though ranking 33 places lower than South Korea, Roberto Mancini’s side took the lead first after seconds into the second half.

Salem Al-Dawsari, the playmaker in the counterattack system for Saudi Arabia, cushioned a pass into Abdullah Radif’s path and the substitute forward controlled the ball well to make a close-range finish, leaving Bayern Munich defender Kim Min-jae helpless.

The Koreans dominated the match in the later stage as the Italian organized defense of Mancini was finally exposed.

Cho Gue-sung, the striker for Danish club Midtjylland, headed in from close range in the ninth minute of stoppage time, making the two sides enter the extra time at 1-1.

Earlier on Tuesday, Uzbekistan beat Thailand 2-1 in another Round of 16 match.

Azizbek Turgunboev, the winger for Pakhtakor club in the Uzbekistan Super League, and Abbosbek Fayzullaev from CSKA Moscow, scored in each half to book a fifth Asian Cup quarterfinal appearance for their national team.

Uzbekistan will meet defending champions Qatar in the next round as the hosts beat Palestine 2-1 on Monday.

Thailand, who entered the tournament’s last 16 for the second time in a row, ended their campaign in Doha.

The Asian Cup, featuring a total of 24 teams, runs from January 12 to February 10.

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