The Taegeuk Warriors earned a battling 2-1 win over Bahrain to move into the Asian Cup quarter-finals, with Kim Jin-su the hero in extra-time.
Rather than their skipper and Spurs star Son Heung-min leading them to victory though, this win was more of a team effort with a number of the South Korea support cast stepping up to the stage.
Kim grabbed the winner but Hwang Hee-chan, who put them ahead, also shone, as did rising national team star Hwang In-beom. But it was right-back Lee Yong who played a bigger role than anyone, laying on the assist for Kim’s winner as well as setting up the opening goal.
The Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors man was the catalyst for both Korea goals as he motored up and down the right flank all night.
Bahrain had defended stoutly up until the 43rd minute before Hwang swept home after good work down the right from Yong.
Son also played a starring role in the opener, spraying a delightful pass out to Yong whose delivery into the box caused chaos and yielded the opener, Hwang tapping in after Sayed Shubbar could only parry Yong’s fizzed low ball in.
Bahrain levelled 13 minutes from time when Mohamed Al Romaihi also profited from a rebound to make it 1-1 and send the game to an additional 30 minutes. The winner came down the right again and from a Yong delivery as Kim’s delicious diving header deservedly won it.
Here we take a closer look at the performance of the rampaging right-back.
Got right – Relentless
As is the modern game, full-backs are not only supposed to defend, and from the off Yong was flying up the right flank to try and get involved with the attacks. He was always an outlet for Kim Min-jae at right centre-half and swung in a couple of dangerous crosses before his arrow of ball into the box created havoc for the Bahrain defence and allowed Hwang to break the deadlock.
The fact that a 30-year-old was still sprinting up and down the touchline after 120 minutes was immense and he still had the power and vision to thump a long ball to the back post on the cusp of half-time in extra-time where Kim put Korea in control once more.
Got wrong – Lapses in concentration
For all the innovation in full-back play in recent years, they still have to defend and Bahrain got a lot of joy down Korea’s right-hand channel in the second half.
After failing to kill Bahrain off early in the second period when a flurry of chances were missed, Miroslav Soukup’s men regrouped and rediscovered their attacking rhythm.
The equaliser came down Yong’s side of the pitch, with the Korean defence failing to clear the ball on three occasions. Only Hong Chul (28) lost the ball more times than Yong (22) during the game.
Nice for Korea fans to know that even with star man Son not at his most influential, he has able assistance, with Yong’s 86.3 per cent pass accuracy easily outshining his skipper. With the right-back’s dangerous crosses and relentless energy, he is yet another weapon in the Taegeuk Warriors’ arsenal.
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