Tottenham’s second exit from a cup competition in the space of four days has been off-set by Son Heung-Min’s likely return for their midweek clash with Watford. Son has missed the last three games while being on international duty with South Korea at the Asian Cup, but their surprise quarter-final exit to Qatar means he is back in the fold earlier than expected. Son’s South Korea on Friday, suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Qatar in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup. A superb strike from Abdelaziz Hatim 12 minutes from time was enough to send Felix Sanchez’s side into the last four, where they will meet either hosts United Arab Emirates or defending champions Australia.
The loss was only South Korea’s second in 21 Asian Cup matches and their first to Qatar, ranked 40 places below them in FIFA’s official standings, since 1984. After a first half lacking in clear-cut chances and including only one shot on target, South Korea began to look the most likely to break the deadlock and Lee Chung-yong spurned a good chance from close range when goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb flapped at a cross. Son Heung-min fashioned an opening in the penalty area only to shoot tamely at Al Sheeb, before Kim Jin-su clipped the outside of the post with a free-kick.
Qatar seized a shock lead a minute later after that reprieve, Hatim firing home a superb strike from long range that curled away from Kim Seung-gyu and into the bottom-left corner of the goalkeeper’s net. Hwan Ui-jo thought he had levelled barely two minutes later but the offside flag saved Qatar, despite a VAR review.
Boualem Khoukhi’s brilliant bicycle kick was well saved by Kim Seung-gyu before Paulo Bento’s men launched a last desperate push for an equaliser, with Khoukhi breathing a sigh of relief when he deflected a header inches wide of his own goal, before the final whistle triggered huge Qatar celebrations. While he has been away, Spurs have been knocked out of the Carabao Cup after losing their semi-final to Chelsea on penalties and the FA Cup following a sub-standard performance in a 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace.
They are back in Premier League action in midweek and Son will be available. “On Sunday we were with him on the training ground in the morning. He’s so tired, he played three games. Very tough games. Of course not too much energy on Sunday, but we hope he’ll be available and ready on Wednesday to help the team.” boss Mauricio Pochettino said.