South Korea Sinks Portugal, Storms Into Knockout Stage Edging Past Uruguay on Goal Difference

A stoppage time goal from Hwang Hee-chan helped outsiders South Korea register a shocking 2-1 win over Portugal in the Group H match of the FIFA World Cup and qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament.

On Friday at the Education City Stadium, the Koreans took second place in the group behind leaders Portugal who had already qualified for the last 16 round before their match against the South Koreans.

South Korea football
South Korean footballer -file photo Reuters

Portugal topped the group with seven points, followed by South Korea and Uruguay with four, and Ghana with three.

Portugal had taken an early lead in the 5th minute through Ricardo Horta but the Koreans equalised 22 minutes later with Kim Young-Gwon finding the back of the net.

The teams went into the half-time break tied at one-all.

There were no goals thereafter till Hee-chan announced himself as a new sporting hero as his stoppage time goal put South Korea through to the next round and was greeted with a rising crescendo of noise from the South Korean fans.

Better Goal Difference

In the Uruguay-Ghana tie, the African side lost 0-2, but despite the win, Uruguay could not make it to the next stage as the Asian side pipped them to the post on a better goal difference.

In the other thrilling game on Friday, Ghana's Andre Ayew missed a penalty before Giorgian de Arrascaeta scored a brace in the first half.

The South Koreans scripted the second big shock in two days by Asian teams with Japan having defeated Spain on Wednesday to make it to the next round as group leaders.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo Reuters

The Koreans, however, finished second and it was only the third time they are making it to the Round of 16 in eleven World Cup appearances.

Portugal go through to the last 16 as Group H winners and will meet Serbia, Switzerland, or Cameroon. South Korea's reward for finishing second is an appointment with Brazil.

Fifteen teams have already qualified for the knockout stage with South Korea joining Japan, Spain, Morocco, Croatia, Argentina, Poland, Australia, Portugal, Brazil, England, France, the Netherlands, Senegal and USA. The last and final team will be decided in Friday's group matches with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon vying for one spot from Group G.