Korea is one step away from a third straight Asian Games title.

South Korea’s men’s soccer team won its Asian Games men’s soccer semifinal against Uzbekistan 2-1 on Thursday behind multiple goals from Jung Woo-young (24) at the Huanglong Sports Center in Hangzhou, China. It will play Japan, which beat Hong Kong 4-0 the same day, in the final on Sunday at the Huanglong Sports Center. Japan was the final opponent at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang tournament. South Korea won 2-1 in extra time to claim the gold medal.

Semifinal opponent Uzbekistan was a tough nut to crack. Uzbekistan has had a better international record at the Asian Games with its U-23 players than its senior national team, winning the 2018 Asian Cup, finishing fourth in 2020 and runner-up in 2022. South Korea met Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals of the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games five years ago, winning a hard-fought 4-3 victory in extra time.

This time around, Uzbekistan, who were in Group C, automatically qualified for the round of 16 after fellow group members Afghanistan and Syria withdrew from the tournament. Coming into the tournament with a lot of momentum, Uzbekistan defeated Indonesia (1-0) in the round of 16 and Saudi Arabia (2-1) in the quarterfinals to reach the Asian Games quarterfinals for the first time in 29 years since winning the 1994 Hiroshima Games.

South Korea’s “spear,” which had scored a whopping 23 goals in their previous five games, was sharp again. South Korea earned a free kick on the right side of the attacking zone in the third minute of the first half, with kicker Lee Kang-in (22) passing to Hong Hyun-seok (24) in the center of the field instead of toward the goal. Hong then passed to Uhm Won-sang (24), who was penetrating the penalty box, and the ball found its way to Jung Woo-young, who was rushing toward the goal. Just five minutes into the game, Jung found the back of the Uzbek net with his right foot.

Uzbekistan fought back. In the 26th minute, on a free kick in front of the penalty area, captain Jasurbek Zalolidinov (21) hit a direct left-footed shot that deflected off a Korean defender and into the net. Uzbekistan didn’t waste the opportunity when midfielder Ibrohimhalil Yuldoshev (22) made a quick break to the free kick spot on his own.

However, the joy of the tie was short-lived. South Korea scored 12 minutes later, in the 38th minute of the first half, when Jung Woo-young made it 2-1. Lee Kang-in in midfield played a long pass to Baek Seung-ho (26) on the left flank, who used his head to redirect the ball inside the penalty area. The ball found its way to the front of the goal as Uzbek defenders and South Korean players scrambled, and Jung Woo-young, who was in front of 토토사이트 the goal, took advantage of the opportunity and slotted it home with his right foot. With his seventh goal of the tournament, Jung Woo-young became the tournament’s leading scorer.

South Korea played with a numerical advantage after Uzbek midfielder Buriev Abdullauf, 21, was sent off in the 30th minute for accumulating cautions. Uzbekistan pushed hard for an equalizer, but Korea’s energy in the attacking third dulled Uzbekistan’s day in the 39th minute when Cho Young-wook’s right-footed mid-range shot struck the top of the Uzbek goal.

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