World Cup 2022: South Korea pip Uruguay to last 16 spot after heart-stopping finale

Al-Wakrah, Qatar - Uruguay defeated Ghana 2-0 but are out of the World Cup in Qatar by the slimmest of margins as South Korea secured a dramatic late win against already qualified Portugal to advance to the last 16.

The South Korea men's national team pose with their flag after a dramatic qualification to the World Cup last 16.
The South Korea men's national team pose with their flag after a dramatic qualification to the World Cup last 16.  © REUTERS

Ricardo Horta scored in his debut at a major tournament to give group winners Portugal the lead in the fifth minute on Friday, but Kim Young-gwon levelled in the 27th from a corner.

The draw would have eliminated the South Koreans, but in the first seconds of stoppage time, Son Heung-min led a fast counter-attack to find Hwang Hee-chan, who made it 2-1 and fired his country into the knock-out stage on goals scored.

After the final whistle between Portugal and South Korea, there was plenty of drama as Uruguay were still playing against Ghana and needed only one goal to change the fate of Group H.

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"We watched the last minutes together on the field and really wanted to make it the next round. We were very happy," South Korea's Jae Sung-lee said.

South Korean joy and Uruguayan tears

Uruguay striker Luis Suárez leaves the pitch in tears after his team's elimination.
Uruguay striker Luis Suárez leaves the pitch in tears after his team's elimination.  © REUTERS

Ghana missed a penalty in the 21st, just like they did in the famous 2010 World Cup clash between the two sides when Luis Suárez punched out a goal-bound shot.

That penalty miss cost Ghana a place in the semi-final and history repeated itself in Qatar as André Ayew's spot-kick was saved by Uruguayan keeper Sergio Rochet when the game was still 0-0.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Giorgian de Arrascaeta netted a rebound from Suarez just five minutes later and completed his brace in 32nd with a lovely first-time finish and after another assist from Suarez.

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Both of them, however, were already on the bench when South Korea scored the winner in the other game and could only watch in tears as Uruguay failed to find a goal that would have sent them to the last 16.

This is the first time in four editions that the South American nation have failed to advance to the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

Portugal go through as group winners and will probably avoid Brazil in the last 16, with the Group G finale still to come.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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