|Son Heung-min's incredible speed in the leadup to his team's winning goal. — VNA/AFP Photo|
HÀ NỘI — South Korea became the third Asian team (if you include Australia) to progress through the group stage of the World Cup, after a dramatic finish in their match against Portugal.
The Taeguk Warriors started the match confidently, but went behind after five minutes.
From Pepe's long ball, Diogo Dalot broke the offside trap and crossed in for Ricardo Horta, to open the scoring for Portugal.
An unconvincing South Korea got the equaliser in the 27th minute. Lee Kang-in's corner rebounded off Cristiano Ronaldo's back, and reached Kim Young-gwon who tapped in at close range.
An angry Ronaldo was subbed off in the 65th minute, and was not there to save Portugal from defeat. Son Heung-min, who played subpar this game, found a crucial through ball for Hwang Hee-chan to make it 2-1, in the first minute of added time.
The South Koreans held on to their lead, and although the final whistle confirmed their upset, they had to delay their celebrations.
In the other match, Uruguay led 2-0 against Ghana in a rematch of 2010's quarter finals, when Luis Suarez's handball famously saved the South Americans from defeat.
Ghana could have taken the lead, had Andre Ayew's penalty was successful, but the miss seemed to have brought the morale down.
Giorgio De Arrasceata scored two in the space of six minutes, making the game impossible for Ghana.
The Uruguayans took their foot off the gas, believing that South Korea would not win. Coach Diego Alonso subbed Suarez, Pellistri, Arrascaeta and Darwin Nunez. As news come in from Education City Stadium, Uruguay started to recreate pressure, but it was too little too late.
All Uruguay needed was a goal to bring them ahead of the Koreans on goal difference, but Ati-Zigi's heroic granted Ghana a bittersweet revenge against Suarez, twelve years after the handball incident.
Tears flowed down both Son Heung-min's and Luis Suarez's faces, but while Son were crying tears of joy, Suarez was in deep pain, as this is almost certainly his last World Cup.
In group G, the clash between Switzerland and Serbia ended in a five-goal thriller.
A draw was enough for the Swiss to progress, should Cameroon not win against Brazil. Serbia on the other hand, needed to win by a wide margin.
This led to both teams going on the attack from the first minute, having learned from the Uruguayans' mistake. Switzerland were first to break the deadlock from Xherdan Shaqiri's powerful shot.
Serbia replied convincingly, scoring two in the space of ten minutes. Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic headed in the equaliser in the 26th minute, before Dusan Vlahovic took advantage of a failed backpass from Shaqiri to gave Serbia the lead.
Switzerland did not falter, and found the crucial equaliser just before the break. Breel Embolo scored the Swiss's second, and also his second goal in this tournament.
The ghost of last Monday's 3-3 draw against Cameroon came back to haunt the Serbs, when Remo Freuler scored to reclaim Switzerland's lead in the 48th minute.
From thereon, Switzerland played defensively to protect their lead, so much so that Serbia's players could not kept their cool and went into fracas with the referee and the Swiss.
Freuler's goal was crucial, especially when Cameroon shockingly beat Brazil 1-0 in the other match. Vincent Aboubakar's stoppage time goal granted the Lions the three points, but the Africans did not progress.
Brazil with only one goal better then Switzerland kept their first place and will face South Korea in the knockouts, while Switzerland faces Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal. — VNS