World: Asian Cup
FULL TIME
AFTER PENALTIES
(Pen: 2 - 4)
1 - 1
(1 - 1)(0 - 0)
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
A. Hadi Radif (46)
K. Cho (90)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Midtjylland striker shoots three Bundesliga professionals into AFC quarterfinals

Three Bundesliga professionals are through to the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals after Jürgen Klinsmann's Taeguk Warriors engineered a dramatic turnaround win against Saudi Arabia in the Round-of-16 on Tuesday evening. 

Seemingly destined to exit the tournament at the earliest stage since 1984, the "Asian Tigers" sent the match against Roberto Mancini's Saudis into extra time at the last possible moment. 

The team then bested their opponents in a penalty shootout. Korea advance deeper into the competition despite having drawn their last three matches. 
It seemed almost certain that three Bundesliga professionals representing their country would be headed home in time for the forthcoming weekend league fixtures on Tuesday evening at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan on Tuesday evening. South Korean footballers Min-Jae Kim (FC Bayern München), Lee-Jae Sung (FSV Mainz 05), and Woo-Yeong Jeong (VfB Stuttgart) are nevertheless not headed back to the Bundesrepublik. All three advance to the quarterfinals of the 2023 Asian continental championship under the aegis of former German Bundestrainer Jürgen Klinsmann.

Klinsmann's Taeguk Warriors began their tournament with an emphatic win in their opening group stage fixture. Two draws in the remaining matches still meant that the East Asian powerhouse could not punch through to the first knockout round of the competition as group winners. Were it not for a dramatic late equalizer scored by FC Midtjylland striker Gue-Sung Cho at 90+9, Klinsmann's "Asian Tigers" would have indeed suffered an embarrassing early exit from the current tourney.

After a dull first half during which none of the three German club players (all in Klinsmann's starting XI again) could muster up much of anything, the Koreans immediately fell behind after the restart when Abdullah Hadi Radif scored the 1-0 shortly after kickoff. The "Green Falcons" rode the momentum and were unlucky not to double their advantage whilst dominating for much of the second 45. Very little urgency was on display from the Koreans until approximately four minutes from the end of normal time.

A hailstorm of chances - including a pair of excellent opportunities from former Leipzig attacker Hwang Hee-Chan - continued to produce nothing. Nine minutes of injury time elapsed until Cho (who had missed a pair of chances himself) notched the 1-1. Cho and former Bundesliga star Heung-Min Son also produced scoring opportunities in the additional 30 minutes of added time. The enervated Saudis appeared content to play for the shootout whilst Klinsmann's crew went for the win.

Mancini's side were made to pay for their passivity when Cho, Son, Hwang, and Young-Gwon Kim all converted their tries from the penalty spot after 120 minutes elapsed. The Saudi's missed their final two tries, giving the Taeguks a 4-2 PSO win. None of the Bundesliga professionals remained on the pitch for the full affair. Stuttgart's Jeong got the hook in the 54th. Mainz's Lee exited proceedings ten minutes later. Klinsmann opted to pull Bayern's Kim just shortly before the shootout commenced.

It shall thus be South Korea that faces a trio of 2. Bundesliga players in the quarterfinals on Friday. Upcoming opponents Australia have rolled through the tournament under the stewardship of their (and FC St. Pauli's) squad captain Jackson Irvine. The ranks of German club professionals still alive in the Asian continental championship saw itself reduced by one yesterday. Eintracht Braunschweig winger Youssef Amyn and his Iraqi "Lions of Mesopotamia" were eliminated by rivals Jordan 3-2 in their Round-of-16 match.

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