Qatar WC: Korea stun Portugal, advance to last 16 at Uruguay's expense

Hwang Hee-chan scores for South Korea against Portugal. Photo: Twitter/ @FIFAWorldCup

Al Rayyan, Qatar: South Korea's Hwang Hee-chan scored in added time to snatch a 2-1 comeback win over Portugal on Friday but they then faced an agonising 10 minute wait on the pitch before discovering it was enough to send them into the World Cup last 16 on goals scored.

Having started the day bottom of Group H, Korea looked to be going out with a whimper as they trailed already-qualified Portugal 1-0, with Uruguay leading Ghana 2-0 half an hour into their game.

But when Kim Young-gwon levelled after 27 minutes they knew one more goal could be enough - providing Uruguay did not extend their lead.

It came when talisman Son Heung-min broke from a Portugal corner and slipped a perfect pass to Hwang who fired past Diogo Costa to spark wild celebrations.

South Korea's Son Heung-min and teammates celebrate after the match. Photo: Reuters/Molly Darlington

However, the other game had started its second half seven minutes later, leaving the Korean players and staff in a centre circle huddle, watching the action unfold across the city on mobile phones.

Another goal would have put the South Americans through but, though they piled forward, it did not materialise and the Koreans exploded in joy at having reached the knockout phase for the first time since 2010 - when they lost to Uruguay.

Ricardo Horta
Ricardo Horta (centre) celebrates his goal for Portugal against South Korea. Photo: Twitter/ @FIFAWorldCup

Portugal top the final standings on six points. South Korea and Uruguay have four points with the same goal difference but Korea went through to the knockout stage by virtue of scoring four goals to the two of Uruguay, who before Friday were the only team in the tournament not to have scored.

The turnaround marked a third successive World Cup night of nerve-shredding drama and also made it the first time three Asian Confederation teams have made the last 16 with Japan and Australia also through.

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