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South Korea come from nowhere to eliminate Uruguay, Ghana from World Cup

Son Heung-min has said he cried “tears of happiness” after South Korea scored a last-gasp winner to beat Portugal 2-1 and reach the World Cup last 16.

The Koreans appeared to be heading out of the tournament in Qatar for much of the game but Hwang Hee-chan’s 91st-minute winner lifted them to second in Group H, behind Portugal on Friday. 

They faced a nervous wait on the pitch for Uruguay’s match against Ghana to finish. The South Americans won 2-0 but were unable to find the one goal extra they needed, going out on goals scored.

Tottenham striker Son was again not at his best and has still not scored in Qatar, but produced a brilliant assist for Hwang’s winner.

After crying tears of sorrow in the last two World Cups, with South Korea eliminated in the group stage in both 2014 and 2018, finally Son was able to shed tears of joy.

“I believe these tears are tears of happiness,” he said. “We waited really long for this moment and we as players believed altogether we could do this.

“There were moments when I wasn’t able to do my best and I am thankful for my team-mates that they were able to cover me in the moments I wasn’t able to fulfil my duties, and I’m very proud of them.”

‘Longest six minutes of my life’

South Korea have now reached the knockout phase for only the third time in their history.

“Going into the round of 16 was our goal and now we have higher goals and we will do our best to achieve those goals,” said Son.

“No one knows the world of football, especially now, and (if) we have a chance to beat Brazil we will do our best and prepare our best game.”

Goalscorer Hwang, who came on as a substitute midway through the second half, said Son had inspired him with his words.

“Before the match Son told me said I was going to create something today,” said Hwang, who missed the first two matches with a hamstring injury.

“He said ‘we trust you’. When I went on as a substitute a lot of teammates also said they trusted me.

“When Son got the ball I was convinced he would pass to me and it was an excellent pass. It made my job easy.”

Son said the wait to find out the result across Doha, where Uruguay were desperately searching for another goal was the “longest six minutes of my life”.

“In the centre circle the guys were saying that we deserve this, it’s well-deserved,” he said.

“I said even if Uruguay score one more goal, I’m (so) proud of this team, I’m very proud of this team and very happy that you gave everything.”

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