Bahrain 1 South Korea 2
January 22 – South Korea edged Bahrain 2-1 after a nervy 120 minutes to book a spot in the last eight of the Asian Cup. The Bahrainis resisted the Korean onslaught for long periods but in the end succumbed to Kim Jin-su’s first international goal, a far-post header, in the 115th minute.
Bahrain qualified for the last 16 as the highest-ranked third-place team in the tournament, snatching a crucial late win against India in their final group game, and there was little surprise when Miroslav Soukup set up his team to defend against South Korea, one of the tournament favourites.
The South Koreans breezed through the group stages and the arrival of Tottenham’s Son Heung-min bolstered the team and their ambitions to win the continental championship for the first time since 1960.
The Bahrainis switched to a back five out of possession, but had the upper hand in the first minutes of the game with a decent spell of pressure that saw a Mohamed Marhoon shot whistled past Kim’s right hand stick. It was an early warning for South Korea, who imposed their dominance as the first half progressed, but failed to breakdown the Bahraini defensive set up that stifled everything that South Korea through at them.
After the 30-minute mark Shubbar Alawi kept Hwang Ui-jo out, haring off his line, and Hwang Hee-chan had the ball nicked off his boot at the last moment, but South Korea’s patience and build-up play paid off just before the break. Son found Lee Yong on the right, who sent in a cross that fell fortuitously Hwang Hee-chan to open the scoring.
The Korean waves kept coming after the break Paulo Bento’s looked much sharper around the Bahraini box. Jung had a set piece deflected in the 54th minute. Soukup brought Sami Al-Husaini on and the East Riffla player tried to get on the ball as much as possible. The Koreans deployed a 4-1-4-1 when forced back by Bahrain.
In the 70th minute Kim denied Jamal Rashid an equaliser for Bahrain. The South Korean goalkeeper had been reduced to a spectator for much of the game, but he reacted alertly to produce a glorious save from Rashid to keep Bahrain out.
Bahraini’s persistence was rewarded with 12 minutes to go. They exploited the space left by Hwang Hee-chang who was down injured. Hong Chul cleared an initial shot off the line but Al Romaihi slammed the rebound into the net. Bahrain were playing with a renewed swagger, as they tried to escape the Korean press and closing down Son at every opportunity. In injury time Hwang Ui-jo had yjr chance to end the game, but clean through on goal and face-to- face with an injured Shubbar he panicked and sliced his shot wide.
Extra time saw more of the same with the Koreans sticking to a patient approach that seemed to suit Bahrain, who sat back waiting for an opportunity to break. Shubbar picked up an injury and was substituted in the 100th minute for Abdulkarim Fardan to make his Bahrain debut.
Kim Young-gwon had a free header but he steered it just wide. Bui then on stoppage of the first half of extra time Kim Jin-su did what his namesake hadn’t, heading in unmarked at the far post to score his first international goal.
This time there was no way back for Bahrain. They had just 15 minutes left to rescue their tournament, but Korea maintained control. Ju Se-jong struck the post as the Bahraini chased the Koreans, but lacked punch in the final third.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1603883405labto1603883405ofdlr1603883405owedi1603883405sni@o1603883405fni1603883405