South Korea Draws with Malaysia and Avoids Knockout Clash with Japan at Asian Cup

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
South Korea’s Lee Kang-in reacts at the end of the Asian Cup Group E soccer match between South Korea and Malaysia at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. 

AL WAKRAH, Qatar (AP) — South Korea avoided a round-of-16 clash with pre-Asian Cup favorite Japan after drawing with Malaysia 3-3 on Thursday.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s team advanced as the runner-up in Group E after conceding in the 15th minute of added time at Al Janoub Stadium and will play Saudi Arabia in the next round.

Romel Morales struck late for Malaysia to even the game and ensure Bahrain advanced as the group winner to face Japan. Bahrain won 1-0 against third-placed Jordan, which also reached the knockout stage.

South Korea was another of the pre-tournament favorites, but, like Japan, has had its setbacks in the group stage and progressed with one win and two draws.

A Son Heung-min penalty four minutes into stoppage time gave his team a 3-2 lead that would have sealed first place. But Morales secured Malaysia’s only point of the tournament by firing into the bottom corner from outside of the area.

South Korea led through Jeong Woo-yeong’s header in the 21st. Faisal Halim leveled six minutes after halftime and Malaysia had the chance to go ahead after Seol Young-woo fouled Arif Aiman in the box. Aiman stepped up and converted from the penalty spot.

South Korea equalized in the 83rd thanks to an own goal by Syihan Hazmi before the dramatic conclusion.

Klinsmann may be grateful to avoid Japan for now, even as the four-time champion has had its own problems and finished runner-up in Group D behind Iraq.