South Korea book place in final four

By Ben McKay
AAP

South Korea have reached the final four of the Asian Cup after scoring twice in extra time to beat Uzbekistan 2-0 in a dramatic quarter-final.

Son Heung-min's double broke a spirited Uzbek resistance led superbly by goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.

The Uzbek keeper dealt with everything the South Koreans could throw his way until Son's close-range header on 104 minutes.

Found alone in the box by Kim Jin-su, Son squeezed his header past Nesterov, who watched the ball trickle over the line.

Then with 60 seconds remaining, Son made the South Koreans' progression safe from a counterattack.

This was a frantic quarter-final, played at an urgent pace throughout, which could have produced any number of goals.

But after 120 minutes in a humid AAMI Park, South Korea had a fourth clean sheet from four tournament games and a place in the final four.

Iran or Iraq awaits Uli Stielike's side in a semi-final on Monday in Sydney.

Any fears the Asian Cup knock-out stages, like the 2014 World Cup, would become less attacking were quickly dismissed.

At each end, chance after chance was fashioned and squandered.

On six minutes, a cross from Uzbekistan's Odil Akhmedov picked out a run from Lutfulla Turaev, whose diving header was inches away from a sweet connection.

Another cross from the right required Korean goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon's full attention as he came well off his line to deny Sanjar Tursunov.

Uzbek captain Akhmedov then volleyed off-target before his injury-induced departure on 30 minutes.

Korean support was dominant amongst the 23,381 attendance at AAMI Park, and the Reds responded to their metronomic gong and fierce chanting.

First Nesterov rushed out to deny Lee Keun-ho and Nam Tae-hee in a double effort.

Less than a minute later, Son's curling shot was touched over the bar by the backpedalling keeper.

There was more of the same after the break, with Nesterov diving to save Lee Jeong-hyeop's firm header.

At the other end, Kim's clearance cannoned into his own defender to narrowly avoid a most embarrassing own goal.

Lee Keun-ho volleyed into the side-netting and the Uzbeks' key chance was lost on 78 minutes, when Sardor Rashidov's brilliant run and cross to the back post was headed wide by Turaev.

The breakthough achieved in extra-time, South Korea spent most of their time defending as Uzbekistan sought an equaliser.

Just as Australia found in the group stages, the Korean defence was too tough to breach.