South Korea strike late before an anxious wait
Shortly before South Korea’s history-making comeback against Portugal, Hwang Hee-chan and Son Heung-min had a conversation.
The two Premier League players knew that they needed a small miracle. They needed to beat Portugal, the group leaders and one of the World Cup favourites, but also hope that the result between Ghana and Uruguay went in their favour.
Son predicted that the Wolverhampton Wanderers forward would create something special. “We trust you,” he told his team-mate.
Hwang had not yet played in the World Cup due to a hamstring injury but, with 66 minutes having elapsed and South Korea needing a goal to preserve any hope, he was introduced.
Manager Paulo Bento had asked Hwang to think about how he might affect the game while he was waiting but it was not until the clock had just ticked past 90 minutes that his big moment came.
A Portugal corner had offered South Korea the chance to break forward and Son skilfully drew defenders in his direction then paused before releasing Hwang. There was still plenty to do but, with one glorious sweep of his right-foot, Hwang directed the ball beyond Diogo Costa and into the goal.
Cue a partial pitch invasion and the first of three separate moments of wild celebration in the space of 11 extraordinary minutes.
The second would duly arrive when the final whistle sounded to confirm South Korea’s victory but, most dramatically of all, they then had to wait while crowding around various mobile phones to watch what was going on 15 miles across Qatar in Al-Wakrah between Uruguay and Ghana.
The excited tension, both on the pitch and in the stands, cannot be overstated and, after the longest five minutes of any South Korean player or fan’s life, came confirmation that they were into the World Cup last 16 for only the third time in their history.
Hwang later revealed the risk that he is currently taking with his hamstring but will have no hesitation before playing Monday’s knockout match.
“Whatever happens to me, whether I aggravated my injury, I just wanted to contribute,” he said. “I couldn’t really train or run on the pitch. It was almost impossible for me to play the first game and the medical staff’s opinion was that it was better for me to stay out the second game and contribute in the third. It was still a risk to play but I don’t care what happens to me physically.
“As a Korean citizen I am extremely proud and would like to thank all the Korean fans. I am glad I was able to give this present to them.”
Of Son’s assist, he added: “When Son got the ball I was convinced he would pass to me and it was an excellent pass - it made my job easy.”
Portugal, and Ronaldo, complicit in defeat
It should of course also be added that South Korea’s task was made a whole lot easier by the fact that Portugal were virtually assured to progress as group winners regardless of whether they won or lost the game. They duly move into what is now an increasingly loaded bottom half of the draw with a potential quarter-final against Spain looming.
Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias and Joao Felix were among those rested but Cristiano Ronaldo, for all his 37 years, was still there for his 194th international cap and third start of the tournament. He needs only one goal to equalise Eusebio’s Portuguese World Cup record but it was a performance, frankly, that will only fuel the debate over whether he should still be in the starting team.
After Portugal had taken a fifth minute lead through Ricardo Horta, Ronaldo had inexplicably turned his back on a South Korea corner, with the ball then cannoning for Kim Young-Gwon to equalise.
Ronaldo then missed a wonderful one-on-one chance to equalise and did not hide his frustration at other moments, notably towards Matheus Nunes when he took a shot rather than cross in his captain’s direction. Portugal manager Fernando Santos said that Ronaldo had also been angered by one of the South Korea players.
“The player from Korea was insulting him, telling him to go away,” he said. “He was verbally aggressive, speaking in English to Cristiano. Cristiano said perhaps he did not have a good day.”
Santos, though, made no attempt to pretend that it had been anything other than a bad day for his Portugal players. “We lost focus,” he said. “That serves as a warning for our team.”
Just the second time South Korea have reached the knockout stages
And the previous occasion was on home soil in 2002. A major achievement to reach the last-16 on foreign soil.
It's not my game but...
What an image. You have to feel for Suarez. Don't you? Maybe not then.
South Korea watching the last few minutes of Uruguay's game...
On this evidence alone, the stadium Wifi seems to be going strong.
Jeremy Wilson's view from the stadium
Incredible scenes at the Education City Stadium. South Korean players in tears after scoring just as 90 minutes elapsed and the fourth official was indicating six minutes of added time.
They've won but the entire squad now being forced to wait on the pitch for the Uruguay game to finish and confirmation of their place in the last 16 for only the third time in their history.
Portugal, who had rested key players - though not Ronaldo - ahead of the knockout phase were flat.
First came the horrible wait for the final whistle in the Uruguay game...
And then the second lot of celebrations once they knew it was over...
Hwang's winning goal
SOUTH KOREA ARE IN THE LAST 16!
Ghana and Uruguay both had chances in stoppage time as they chased goals, but it finishes 2-0 to Uruguay which means South Korea are through on goals scored.
They will more than likely face Brazil in the next round.
South Korea celebrations after Hwang's goal
Uruguay have around five minutes of stoppage time to play
Cavani has just had a penalty appeal turned down. South Korea's players will be in agony waiting for the final whistle.
FT: South Korea 2 Portugal 1
A bit of a smash and grab from South Korea, but they will not care a jot. Son's assist and Hwang's finish in the 90th minute was comic book stuff, an incredible World Cup moment.
But they still need to hope Uruguay do not score another goal. Follow that here.
Portugal are remaining professional of course, still trying to come forward, but I don't think they will be too disappointed with Uruguay going home.
South Korea are on the brink of the last 16, they just need to hold on here and hope that Uruguay do not score another goal against Ghana. They are in the 89th minute of that game which you can follow here.
GOOOOAAAALLL! South Korea may have scored the winner
Hwang Hee-Chan with the goal, but having just doubted Son's creative game I should credit him with creating the chance quite brilliantly. Portugal over-committed from a corner and Son carried the ball up the length of the field, before timing his through ball for Hwang to perfection who swept the ball into the net.
South Korea heading through, Uruguay out! On goals scored.
SIX minutes of added time
Is there still time for South Korea?
South Korea just have not had the quality to create that one big chance. It doesn't really help their cause that the star player, Son, is very much a finisher who wants to be on the end of moves or having the final shot. He is not going to create something from nothing or orchestrate a team's performance.
South Korea do have a corner, now, which has been their best avenue to goal through the whole game. Hwang Hee-Chan got a glancing head to it, but it skimmed away from danger. Portugal go down the other end and win a corner of their own.
South Korea need to start being more direct and pushing numbers ahead of the ball. There is no real sign of them scoring the goal they need, but we have said that before and been made to look silly.
Portugal continuing to attack as South Korea wait to make their changes, much to the fury of their opponents. Hwang Ui-Jo is on for them.
Bernardo Silva and William Carvalho are now on for Portugal. What squad depth they have.
There are several fitness problems in the South Korea squad and there is another worry here with defender Kim Young-gwon down on the turf. They are going to make a change. South Korea are also without Napoli centre-half Kim Min-jae.
Once again, Diogo Dalot is the source of another Portugal attack, pushing the ball past his man on the outside and drilling a low-cross into the six-yard box which could have bounced anywhere.
Lee Kang-in takes on a left-footed free-kick from fully 30 yards but it flew over the bar. South Korea are still in this, one more goal would put them level on points with Uruguay, on the same goal difference, but with more goals scored.
Huge appeals from the South Korea players for a penalty for handball! Play was switched to Son on the right who took on the volley at goal, and the ball was blocked by Cancelo who threw himself at it. Son saying it struck his arm but it was more stomach. No penalty, and no danger of Var overturning that.
Decent save from Costa but Hwang In-beom's shot was straight at him. Portugal have had the odd lapse defensive moment today, but I guess you can allow them that given the rotation.
Portugal are making three changes, and Ronaldo is one of the players coming off. He is chuntering to himself because he is two goals away from beating Eusebio's record World Cup goal tally for Portugal. Santos has also introduced Andre Silva, Leao and Fulham midfielder Palinha. Wolves pair Nunes and Neves also off.
South Korea have brought on Wolves forward Hwang. Bit of a Black Country reunion today.
South Korea are still in containment mode when they do not have the ball, dropping deep. Neves is showing his range of passes and Portugal are suffocating their opponents. Cancelo tried one chop too many, to the fury of Ronaldo who wanted him to whip the cross in.
Lee Kang-in with an dangerous delivery from a wide left free-kick and it was not far away from the head of Cho. South Korea have looked most likely from set-pieces throughout this match.
Portugal look in complete control, Ruben Neves spraying passes left and right. A cross stood up to the back post is not far way from his Wolves team-mate Nunes.
Then South Korea piece together a really good counter and release Son into the right channel, but Dias gets across to block his shot. This time Portugal get their head on the corner.
A chance comes and goes for Ronaldo! Vitinha with a delightful pass chipped towards Ronaldo in the box, but he did not connect with the volley as it dropped over his shoulder. Horta has looked lively up front for Portugal, might be a decent option from the bench in the knockout rounds.
Portugal controlling and the ball and possession, the game is being played almost entirely in South Korea's half. Portugal have slowed the pace down to a standstill. They look like a team who are conserving energy.
A tight and cagey first few minutes to the second half, South Korea are to going for broke just yet. They might be happy enough to reach the 70-minute mark level.
We're back under way
Will Portugal step on the gas after the break?
Continuing his Manchester United form
Who has stood out for Portugal or South Korea?
Find out with our player ratings tool.
HT: South Korea 1 Portugal 1
Portugal have been the better side overall despite a duff period in the middle of the half. They are creating openings, especially down their right through Dalot. So much attacking talent to introduce from the bench.
South Korea have stayed in the game and are threatening from set-pieces and crosses.
As things stand, Portugal winning the group and Uruguay second.
Just the two minutes of added time and Portugal finish the half with a corner. Mario whips it in and it whistles over the head of Ronaldo and South Korea emerge unscathed.
Portugal finishing the half as they started it, on the front foot and looking slick. This time Dalot, who has been very good again, picks out Horta in space behind the retreating South Korea defence, but his shot was blocked.
South Korea survive a heart in mouth moment as Vitinha's strike from just outside the area is pushed out by the goalkeeper, but Ronaldo could not quite crane his neck enough to convert the rebound. His header drifts wide of the post. Chance gone for Portugal.
Lovely touch and control from Son to escape his marker 25 yards out, but he did not quite catch his left-footed strike which rolled straight at Diogo Costa in the Portugal goal. One of Son's brighter moments so far.
Dalot involved in another good piece of Portugal attacking play, and Ronaldo blasts a shot from a tight angle which is blocked. Then Ronaldo and Vitinha are involved in some lovely interplay, but the main man's through ball was too strong.
Credit to South Korea for sticking at their task after falling behind early. Uruguay are now 2-0 up against Ghana after a quite stunning goal.
Ronaldo's role in that South Korea equaliser was bizarre. Either he heard a shout or mis-judged the flight of the ball, turning away from it. South Korea will not mind.
The good news is flooding in for South Korea because Uruguay have taken the lead against Ghana. One more goal and South Korea would find themselves in a qualification spot.
Ronaldo looked to have a presentable chance saved but the flag went up for offside.
GOOOOAAALL! South Korea level
Portugal slack from another corner, and would you believe it, the corner bounced off Ronaldo's back after he flinched away from it. The ball broke loose for Kim Young-gwon, who stretched to divert his shot home. Just what South Korea needed.
Lee Kang-in does well to protect the ball in midfield and win South Korea a free-kick, which is delivered with menace. It results in another corner, and South Korea have threatened from set-pieces.
Portugal are back on the attack in this game, and Nunes whipped in a really dangerous delivery towards Ronaldo who was lurking in the penalty area. Kwon Kyung-won with a really important defensive intervention to clear.
That was a small let off for Portugal as Ronaldo remonstrates with his team-mates to get going again.
In the other game in this group, history is repeating itself with Ghana missing a penalty against Uruguay. Andre Ayew following in the footsteps of Gyan. You can follow all the action in that game here.
South Korea have the ball in the net but the flag goes up for offside. It was a well-worked short corner after Portugal switched off, and Son delivered a threatening inswinger from the left with his right foot. Flicked on at the near post but the South Korea player who tapped it in at the back post was in an offside position.
South Korea need to take a leaf out of Japan's book after their second-half turnarounds against Spain and Germany. They are still trying to be enterprising and take the ball, but no clear chances so far.
South Korea trying to muster an instant response, but a marginal decision goes against them as Portugal are awarded a goal kick from a ball that deflected behind. If Portugal can build on this lead, they will more than likely avoid Brazil in the next round.
GOOOAAALLL! Portugal strike first
Horta scores on his first start at a major tournament for Portugal, one of Santos' changes has paid dividends.
It is excellent attacking full-back play from Diogo Dalot who brought down a Pepe diagonal and pushed it out of his feet, and found Horta with a pull-back that he swept home. A really neat goal.
South Korea trailing in a must-win game.
Nice idea from South Korea forward Cho who tried to flick the ball on for the run of right-back Kim Moon-hwan, but there was too much on it.
Portugal's turn to stroke the ball around at the back, Vitinha gets a few early touches on his first start of the tournament. Loud boos from the South Korea fans when Ronaldo gets his first touch near the right wing, which you have to find quite amusing.
South Korea settling into a period of possession straight from kick off, Portugal are not a team with the legs to press too aggressively. But they are compact behind the ball and difficult to create chances against.
South Korea do progress to the edge of the Portugal box with a positive move but Cancelo is pulled up for a foul.
South Korea get us under way.
The players are out for the anthems
South Korea need to produce the performance of their lives in the next 90 minutes.
South Korea need a magic moment from Son
Have a go at our match predictor
Has Santos made too many changes or do Portugal have enough to get the job done/
Why Portugal will want to top the group...
If they finish second, the odds are they will play Brazil in the last-16. Top the group and it will be Switzerland or Serbia.
How we stand in Group H
Portugal will top the group should they get a draw or a win against South Korea.
Ghana, in second on three points, will guarantee progress with a win against Uruguay, though a point will be enough if South Korea fail to beat Portugal.
It might also be enough if South Korea beat Portugal but only by a goal, as both teams would be level on goal difference, but Ghana potentially ahead on goals scored.
This is all obviously dependent on how many goals each team scores in those final games. If Ghana lose, they are out.
South Korea and Uruguay, on one point each, both need to win to have any chance of progression, with the other result going their way.
Six changes to Portugal's team
Ronaldo leads Portugal's attack despite having to train separately from the rest of the team this week but Fernando Santos has made six changes.
Portugal have brought Diogo Dalot and Antonio Silva into the defence.Matheus Nunes, Vitinha and Joao Mario come into the midfield in place of Bernardo Silva, William Carvalho and Bruno Fernandes while Ricardo Horta replaces Joao Felix up front.
South Korea's Portuguese coach Paulo Bento has left left out central defender Kim Min-jae, who was an injury doubt, and has replaced him with Kwon Kyung-won, while Lee Jae-sung and Lee Kang-in are drafted into midfield.
South Korea must beat Portugal and hope the result of Ghana's match with Uruguay goes their way in order to reach the last 16.
The two teams: Ronaldo starts
South Korea: Kim Seung-gyu, Kim Moon-hwan, Kwon Kyung-won, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Jin-su, Lee Jae-sung, Lee Kang-in, Jeong Woo-yeong, Hwang In-beom, Son Heung-min, Cho Gue-sung.
Portugal: Diogo Costa, Diogo Dalot, Pepe, Antonio Silva, Joao Cancelo, Matheus Nunes, Ruben Neves, Vitinha, Joao Mario, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Horta.
South Korea have no choice but to attack
Portugal were not handed an easy draw at this World Cup group game, but victories over Ghana and Uruguay have assured them of reaching the knockout stages. Now they need just a point against South Korea to top the group.
Portugal have played in fits and starts, but some telling contributions from Rafael Leão, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes have proven decisive in the attacking third. Fernando Santos has so much quality at his disposal, it is just a question of finding the right balance between defence and attack. With Mendes, Otavio and Danilo injured, Santos said he expects to rotate part of his squad with a view to keeping some players fresh for their game in the last 16. He was unsure whether Ronaldo would be rested.
South Korea were completely demoralised after their defeat to Ghana. They managed to come back from two goals down only to see Mohammed Kudus' goal win the day. There were some promising signs going forward, but their defending of crosses, when their backline was guilty of sagging too deep. South Korea must win this afternoon to stand any chance of progressing, and they are managed by former Portugal international Paulo Bento.
Bento, a former Portugal international, said that his home country has "one of the greatest generations of Portuguese football".
That was echoed by defender Kim Young-gwon who told a news conference: "He (Ronaldo) is a world class player, this is a well known fact and they have all these talented players. To contain them we'll have to play as a team, as one unit.
"We played our first two games with passion and we're going to have to show that passion again tomorrow. But we'll also need a bit of luck. If we have all that, we can create a miracle."
Full team news on the way shortly.