With Korea Republic topping the Group C table following a 2-0 win over China on match-day 3, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the key talking points.
Hwang Ui-jo put the South Koreans in front with a peanlty in the 12th minute before Kim Min-jae doubled his side’s advantage in the 51st minute to put the game beyond the Chinese, sending Korea Republic through to the next round as the winners of Group C.
5. Korea Republic batter China with blistering start
AFC Asian Cup 2019: Korea Republic 1-0 China PR – Hwang Ui-jo (14′)
Despite an early chance for the Chinese, the South Koreans gained a foothold into the game – from whereon they started pummeling the Chinese defence. Two brilliant saves from their keeper prevented Hwang Ui-jo from opening the scoring but the floodgates finally opened with returning Premier League star Son being tripped in the area, earning his side a penalty. Atoning for his earlier error, Hwang Ui-jo stepped up to put the South Koreans one up, which triggered another spell of fluid football from his side, hitting the post and forcing another set of saves from the opposition keeper.
4. Captain Son shows his class
Having missed his side’s first two games owing to his participation in the English Premier League, Son Heung-min returned for the final group game against China, presumably raring to go. Captaining his side on the occasion, Son made an instant impact – winning the penalty which put his side ahead. Apart from the penalty, his general game-play always looked neat and the Spurs star ensured he made the gulf in class known between him and the rest of the players on the field.
3. South Koreans top Group C, sending China second
With both teams having already secured qualification for the next stages of the competition, it was only a question of which one would finish first – something the Korea Republic answered rather emphatically. Rarely wasting a breath, the South Koreans dominated the game throughout and ensured Marcelo Lippi’s side finished second in the group, meaning the Koreans have in store a potentially easier fixture for themselves in the next round.
2. China flatter to deceive yet again
Having come from behind to claim victory in their opening game of the tournament and then registering a comprehensive victory over Phillipines in their second, China seemed well placed to top the group ahead of rivals Korea Republic – who won both of their games with narrow 1-0 victories over Kyrgyzstan and the Filipinos. Instead, as has been the theme of their performances under Marcelo Lippi, the Chinese couldn’t make the most of their momentum and succumbed to a rather tame loss against their continental rivals – without putting up even a semblance of any fightback of sorts.
1. Hwang Ui-jo and Kim Min-jae carry South Korea through yet again
Highlights – Korea Republic vs China
It was a case of familiar faces for Korea Republic as the scorers here were the same ones who had ensured victory for them in their opening two games. The South Koreans have had only two scorers in the tournament so far, Hwang Ui-jo striking against Philippines to see them through 1-0 and center-back Kim Min-jae getting on the scoresheet against Kyrgyzstan to ensure victory with a similar scoreline. While they may have wanted other players to get on the scoreline too, it was the same two players who guaranteed victory here, both getting in on the goals in the same game this time to send their through to the next round as group leaders.