Viet Nam News
ROSTOV-ON-DON — Mexico moved closer to qualify from Group F at the World Cup after defeating South Korea 2-1 in muggy weather at Rostov Arena on Saturday.
The Mexicans came to the city on the Don river to maintain, hopefully expand their lead in the group, as they beat the reigning champions in the opener.
On the other hand, South Korea were committed to the first victory, utilising probably their last opportunity, as they are to take on Germany in their last group match.
Suffocating heat and humidity impacted both teams negatively from the first minute. After a relatively slow-tempo and paralleled first 20 minutes, when the captain just finished their first shot on target in this tournament, South Korea suffered another heartbreaking moment.
A cross by Andres Guardado hit the stretching arm of center back Jang Hyunsoo, who was trying to tackle the ball with a slipper in the box.
This incident resulted in the second penalty awarded to the opponents of the South Koreans, after they conceded one in their first match against Sweden.
Carlos Vela calmly converted the penalty into a 1-0 lead for Mexico in the 27th minute, as the South Korea goal keeper Jo Hyeonwoo was sent to the wrong side.
It made the 14th penalty of Russia 2018, which already outnumbered the total of 13 in Brazil four years ago, with the tournament hadn’t gone into its halfway yet, primarily thanks to the newly-implemented VAR system.
South Korea, led by Tottenham striker Son Heungmin, created a couple of counterattack opportunities, but all of them ended up fruitless. After switching sides, the desperate South Koreans tried to equalise the game by giving all they had.
However another goal of Mexico almost devastated their hope as Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez doubled the lead for Mexico in an efficient counterattack.
Son shined eventually in the injury time, when he turned a long strike from outside of the box into a gorgeous goal, when the ball curled past the Mexico goal keeper Guillermo Ochoa’s hands.
"We devoted more attention in today’s match with South Korea than the one against Germany, the players played very well today, and the way of playing was very Mexican, so it’s a well deserved victory, despite the fact that we gave our opponents opportunities and conceded a goal, " said Mexico coach Osorio Juan Carlos at the post-match press conference.
"We are very happy about the victory, but now, back to work, we have to plan for the next match," the Colombian added.
"Our players played a game they will not regret, I’m really grateful that they did their best until the last minute," South Korean coach Shin Taeyong said.
"We have some good players, but I think maybe the lack of experience which we need to accumulate in the future, is our weak point, " he added.
Shin questioned whether the VAR should be used in a wider range, as there might be a foul before the second goal his team conceded.
"We have to make a decision when the VAR should be used, " he said. Speaking about the next match Shin said, "Our players did their utmost, ran a lot, so they are exhausted, but we will not give up our third game against Germany."
Leading the group with six points, a place in the last 16 is within reach for Mexico, who will battle with Sweden on June 27. Mexico are scheduled to play Germany around one hour after the match between South Korea and Mexico has finished. – Xinhua