Tottenham Hotspur forward Heung-min Son was involved for South Korea as the Asian superpowers secured top spot in Group C of the 2019 Asian Cup with a convincing 2-0 win over China at the Al Nahyan Stadium. Son, who was granted permission to miss the 1-0 wins over Philippines and Kyrgyzstan, was influential on his first outing of the tournament.
Son won the penalty from which Hwang Ui-jo opened the scoring after 14 minutes and provided the corner for Kim Min-jae to double the lead early in the second half. It was a deserved win for Paulo Bento’s side, who looked a far more convincing outfit with Son in their starting line-up and his arrival should offer hope of a run into the latter stages of a tournament they have not won since 1960.
Korea will now face the best third-placed team from Group A, B or F, while Marcello Lippi’s China – who would have topped the group with a point – have a last-16 date with Thailand. Hwang had already been denied one-on-one and Kim put a free header wide by the time Son drew a foul in the area with Zheng Zhi and Shi Ke having a nibble at the Tottenham forward.
The spot-kick was clinically dispatched into the bottom-left corner by Hwang and only the far post cruelly denied his brilliant curling effort from the left of the box making it 2-0. It was essentially game over by the 51st minute when Kim emphatically headed home Son’s left-side corner at the near post. Kim Moon-hwan was unfortunate to see an edge-of-the-box shot bend wide after a jinking run, while Kim Jin-su and Hwang Hee-chan also went close to adding what would have been a deserved third.
Meanwhile, back in England, Mauricio Pochettino could do with Son now more than ever after seeing top scorer Harry Kane ruled out for more than a month with an ankle injury while Lucas Moura is also unavailable because of injury.