Steve Douglas, The Associated Press
AL-RAYAN, Qatar – South Korean players formed a circle in the center of the field after the final whistle and watched the match on their mobile phones as the match was broadcast simultaneously in a district stadium to learn the fate of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The South Koreans fulfilled their share of the mandate by defeating Portugal 2-1 thanks to a stoppage time goal in the second half.
They now had to wait for the outcome of the other game in progress. Uruguay was muzzled in Ghana in the last six minutes of the other Group H match.
Some South Koreans prayed. Others wept bitterly, like their leader, Son Heung-min, in the center of the circle.
Then they exploded with joy.
South Korea reached the round of 16 thanks to a goal-scoring tiebreaker, which pushed Uruguay into third place in their group on Friday.
Son said, “We accomplished something special, and I am very proud of our players. We wanted to reach the round of 16. We gave our full potential in every match, and we can never predict what will happen in this sport.”
Both teams finished with four ranking points and had a goals-to-goals-to-zero difference. However, the Asian team scored four goals against only two goals for Uruguay.
“We never give up,” Sun Bin said in tears. Our players gave everything they had, went beyond their limits, sacrificed themselves, and this allowed us to get a good result.
When the Uruguay-Ghana match officially ended 2-0, and South Korea finished second, the players erupted with joy and poured themselves their own water bottles.
South Korea were heading into elimination and the score was 1-1 when Portugal’s corner was cleared, setting the stage for a long breakaway from Son in the first minute of injury time, and he soon found himself surrounded by Portuguese players in defensive backsliding, but had a presence of mind slipping away. The ball is between the opponent’s legs in the direction of Hwang Hee-chan. The latter did not hesitate and skillfully hit the ball into the goal of Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Costa.
Then, when the final whistle blew, Son – who was crying with joy – and his teammates took to the pitch. South Korea coach Paulo Bento, who is Portuguese, patiently waited for the conclusion of the Uruguay-Ghana match in the tunnel to the dressing room before celebrating.
Portugal was already guaranteed to win their group and advance to the next round, which meant star player Cristiano Ronaldo would be able to play at least one more game in Qatar.
For his part, Luis Suarez could not hold back tears on the sidelines after learning that Uruguay had been eliminated from the tournament, despite their 2-0 win over Ghana.
This result also confirmed the elimination of the African country.
Suarez was instrumental in two goals by Jorgian de Arascaeta in the first half, and Uruguay looked set to be on their way to the last 16 in Qatar.
However, shortly after replacing Suarez on the field, the giant screen at the Al Janoub Stadium suddenly broadcast a standings update indicating that South Korea finished second in the group after a late net against Portugal.
Uruguay then advanced to the attack, hoping to score the goal that would make the difference in their favour. But substitutes Maximiliano Gomez and Sebastian Coates missed golden chances, and Uruguay saw qualification slip away from them both.
Cameroon 1 – Brazil 0
Vincent Aboubakar scored with a header in the second minute of stoppage time in the second half and Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0.
Abu Bakr took off his shirt in celebration and was shown a second yellow card. He was kicked out of the game.
Brazil still reached the knockout stage, having defeated Serbia and Switzerland.
The Brazilians’ manager, Tite, decided to rest almost all of his first-choice players and made 10 changes to his squad that beat Switzerland on Monday.
Brazil must also manage without the services of the injured Neymar. The star was present at Lusail Stadium to watch his teammates’ match.
Serbia 2 – Switzerland 3
Switzerland reached the round of 16 of the World Cup for the third time in a row, after defeating Serbia 3-2.
Remo Freuler scored the winning goal minutes after the return of the first half, and the Swiss finished second in Group F, and will face Portugal on Tuesday.
Freuler put the finishing touch on a pass from Ruben Vargas after Xherdan Shaqiti had sent the ball into the box.
Shakiri gave Switzerland the lead at the start of the first half before Aleksandar Mitrovic and Duzan Vlahovic responded instead of Serbia. Brill Empolo tied the score before halftime.
Switzerland needed a win to guarantee a place in the knockout stages. They lost in the round of 16 to Argentina in the 2014 World Cup and then to Sweden in 2018.