Global media such as The Associated Press (AP), Reuters and BBC have expressed surprise and praise for Korea after its dramatic 2-1 upset of Portugal in their final Group H of the Qatar World Cup soccer finals and the Taegeuk Warriors’ advance to the round of 16.
In the Dec. 3 article “South Korea advances at World Cup after wild finish to group,” The AP said, “South Korea advanced on the tiebreaker of goals scored, pushing Uruguay into third place Friday in one of the wildest finishes to a group in the tournament’s 92-year history.”
The article also described the “agonizing wait” after the game as Korean players formed a circle to watch Uruguay versus Ghana on their smartphones. “When the Uruguay-Ghana game finished 2-0 and South Korea was sure of its second-place finish, the players on the field erupted in joy, hugging each other and squirting water in the air,” it said.
“South Korea was tied at 1-1 and heading out of the tournament when a Portugal corner got cleared and Son (Heung-min) led a length-of-the-field breakaway in the first minute of added time. He got crowded out by Portugal’s retreating defenders but had the presence of mind to slip a pass through an opponent’s legs and into the path of Hwang Hee-chan.”
The story added, “Hwang, who came on as a substitute for his first match at this year’s World Cup, removed his jersey and flexed his muscles (after scoring).”
Reuters on the same day analyzed Son’s performance in the game, saying Korea needed a win to advance to the next round.
“But Son led by example, summoning the spirit of 2002 when South Korea reached the semi-finals on home soil, having also beaten Portugal on the way out of the group,” it added. “The Asian side simply refused to accept that their World Cup dream was over and it was captain Son who epitomised the Koreans’ relentless energy with a selfless display.”
Son’s assist of Hwang’s winning score also garnered massive attention from foreign media. Fox Sports of the U.S. on Dec. 3 called the pass the “best assist” on its list “Best of the World Cup So Far: Top Goal, Save, Player, Team and More.”
“The prettiest assists are almost always the ones that are low-driven and sent from just behind the halfway line into the box,” the list said. “That being said, Son Heung-min’s sneaky through ball to Hwang Hee-chan was so impressive, especially when you consider what it ultimately meant for South Korea.”
The BBC of the U.K. on Dec. 2 covered the game through two articles, one headlined “World Cup 2022: Ecstasy and agony as South Korea progress at Uruguay’s expense on another dramatic day” and the other “Korea overcome bad start for a happy ending.”
“Any hope of a happy ending for South Korea had seemed unlikely when they fell behind after only five minutes, with Portugal scoring with their first meaningful attack,” it said. “It was roughly eight minutes after the final whistle at Education City Stadium when South Korea were able to get their party started.”
“Iconic striker Son created the dream finish they craved, setting up Wolves frontman Hwang to score the stoppage-time goal that was just the start of their happy ending.”
The Guardian of the UK on Dec. 3 focused on Hwang and Son in its article headlined “Hwang fires South Korea into last 16 with late winner against Portugal.”
The daily said of Son, “And he kept on running until he reached the edge of the Portugal penalty area, where he threaded a pass through the legs of Diogo Dalot to leave Hwang with a place in the last 16 and the hopes of a nation at his feet.”
On Hwang, it said, “Not even the pain of a hamstring injury could impede the forward and with one cool finish South Korea had reached the knockout stage for the first time since 2010.”
Source: Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism