Bekasi: Tottenham forward Son Heung-min helped South Korea reach the Asian Games semi-finals as the defending champions beat Uzbekistan 4-3 in an extra-time cliffhanger yesterday.
The World Cup star produced a pair of smart assists for hat-trick hero Hwang Ui-jo before a late Hwang Hee-chan penalty sent the Koreans through.
Son was the driving force as the Koreans squeezed through to face either Syria or Vietnam in the last four.
The 26-year-old Son provided a superb assist after just five minutes in Bekasi, near Jakarta.
It was the tournament’s top scorer Hwang Ui-jo who hit the opener, tucking away his sixth goal of the Games after a brilliant run from Son.
But Jaloliddin Masharipov pounced on South Korea’s defensive hesitation to equalise with a sharp finish after 17 minutes.
Hwang smashed in his seventh of the competition with a dipping shot from long distance to restore his side’s advantage 10 minutes before the break.
However, Korean hopes of advancing to the semi-finals almost evaporated in the space of two calamitous second-half minutes.
Ikromjon Alibaev fired Uzbekistan level in the 53rd minute after finding himself unmarked at the back post.
Moments later, the midfielder tried his luck from range and got a huge slice of luck as the ball took a wicked deflection off Hwang Hyun-soo and trickled into the net.
Hwang Ui-jo struck back, latching on to a Son through-ball to complete his hat-trick with aplomb after 75 minutes.
Son then let fly with a ferocious left-foot shot that whistled past the post as the Koreans went in search of a winner in normal time.
Already booked, Alibaev was sent off for a shove early in the first period of extra time before hat-trick man Hwang missed a sitter from point-blank range.
Both teams looked out on their feet after going toe-to-toe in sapping humidity but as a penalty shootout loomed, Hwang Hee-chan triggered ecstatic scenes from the Koreans as he stepped up to blast home from the spot after a foul on Hwang Ui-jo.