February 6 – On an astonishing night of giant killing Jordan knocked out South Korea 2-0 in the Asian Cup to secure a place in the final this weekend.
It was a stunning achievement for a team that only qualified for the knockout rounds as one of the best third placed group finishers.
Jordan will sail deeper into uncharted territory. They had never made it to the quarter finals before and now they have gone all the way to the final.
This was the second time these two teams had met in these finals. In their group game against the Koreans, Jordan had thrown away a two-goal lead in added time to draw, a result that guaranteed the Koreans passage into the knockout rounds.
In the last 16 Jordan overcame a very good and very emotional Iraqi team 2-1 before knocking out tournament debutants Tajikistan. Even so, few would have bet on Jordan winning before the game, except perhaps the bulk of the 40,000 fans who were as intense as their team, from start to finish.
Jordan’s win ensures the Asian Cup will remain with an Arab nation as Jordan will now face the winners of Qatar and Iran who play tomorrow night. The final is on Saturday February 10 at the Lusail Stadium.
At this tournament South Korea had become the masters of added time goalscoring. In the last 16 round against Saudi Arabia Cho Gue-sung’s equaliser in the 99th minute propelled them on to a penalty shoot-out win. Against Australia in the quarter final Hwang Hee-chan’s 96th-minute penalty had levelled the game before Son Heung-min struck the winner in extra time.
The Koreans had been looking to lift their first Asian Cup title since 1960.
Both Jurgen Klinsmann and Jordan’s Hussein Ammouta were forced into changes due to suspensions. Jordan were missing striker Ali Olwan. Of more significance was that Klinsmann was without Bayern Munich central defender Kim Min-jae who had picked up a booking in the quarter final and was suspended. How Korea were going to miss him.
Jordan started fast. winning a corner within 20 seconds. On 4 minutes Nizar Al Rashdan fired from outside box and Jordan had their second corner. A minute later Ehsan Haddad fired a long shot over.
Korea were struggling to get a foot in the game with, Jordan, spearheaded by a rampant Mousa Tamari running at them at every opportunity assisted by a forward line confident enough to pressure Korea’s shaky defence in to mistakes.
It took the Koreans 13 minutes to bring talisman Son Heung-Min into the game on the left and he was summarily flattened by two Jordanians – no foul. With the ball falling to Tamari he torpedoed at Korea’s defence and was given similar treatment. Yellow card for Hwang In-Beom.
On 17 minutes another good chance came Jordan’s way, falling to Nour Al Rawabedah who forced an even better save out of Jo Hyeon-Woo diving to his left. It was to be the first of several saves by Jo to keep the Koreans in the game
A minute later a Korean ball over the top from midfield for Son to run on to saw him lob the keeper, but he was pulled back for offside.
Korea were at last starting to put together meaningful passages of play and on 23 minutes
Korea’s Seol Young -Woo, an increasingly potent force overlapping on the left, cut the ball across to Lee Kang-in whose left foot volley went over.
At the other end Yazat Al Naimat beat the Korean defence but Jo saved again.
Korea’s patient, somewhat laboured build-up, saw them shade 52% of possession in the first 25 minute first passage of play, but Jordan were winning the shot count 8 – 1.
Jordan’s pressure on Korea’s hesitant defence, and Tamari’s anticipation in particular, was making this a miserable night for the east Asians.
Korea gradually grew in confidence and threat as the half progressed. On 29 minutes Seol Yong Won was brought down in the area, but VAR refused the penalty.
A minute Lee Kang-In’s spectacular overhead kick overhead kick hit the post.
But every time it looked as though the Koreans were about to get a grip, in came Tamari. As if as a warning of what was to come, as the match edged towards the half time break, Tamari stole the ball on the edge of the Jordan box and drove the length of the field to find Yazan Al Naimat on the edge of Korea’s six yard area, only for his flick to be palmed away again by Jo.
Everyone needed a breather, not least the unrelenting Jordanian fans.
While Korea began the second half as they had finished the first, with dominance of the ball,
five minutes into the half, and against the run of possession, it was Tamari again who stole the ball off a sluggish Korean defence to release Yazan Al Naimet who pushed the ball past Jo.
1-0 and the Jordan fans were ignited. Now every Jordanian touch of the ball met with a cacophony of sound. Every Korean touch greeted with whistles.
Klinsmann changed it up bringing on Cho Gue-Sung to lead the attack – perhaps he should have done so earlier – and his impact was almost immediate. On 58 minutes Son won a corner that Cho met in the centre of goal but headed over. It was a chance the Koreans couldn’t afford to miss.
On 63 minutes Tamari almost made it two up, forcing another save from Jo. A minute later it was 2-0. Tamari surging at pace at the Korean defence yet again, hit the ball past a diving Jo’s right hand into the back of the net.
Lightening doesn’t strike twice. There was no way the Jordanians were going to let this game slip away like their group encounter.
Korea almost pulled one back with the ball sliding past Yazeed Abulaila’s right hand post for a corner. But Tamari almost added a third with yet another run at the heart of the Korean defence.
Korea continued to push throughout the eight minutes of added but despite their pushing and probing they couldn’t fashion a clear-cut opening. For all their possession – just over 70% over the game – they did not manage a shot on target.
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