Son Heung-min’s extra-time stunner came of little help as South Korea succumbed to it’s joint-worst run at the World Cup, losing 1-2 to Mexico, their second defeat in two games after the 0-1 loss to Sweden.
Carlos Vela scored from a penalty while Javier ‘Chicarito’ Hernandez netted his 50th international goal helping ‘El Tri‘ seal a knockout berth at the Rostov Arena on Saturday.
This was South Korea’s fourth successive defeat at the World Cup – the first two coming four years ago in Brazil – equalling the record they had created over a decade ago in between the 1986 and 1990 tournament, when they lost the last group game against Italy in 86′ and failed to win a single match in the 90′ Italia tournament.
Coming into the must-win contest after the slothful defeat to Sweden, in which coach Shin Tae-yong was heavily criticised for playing Heung-min wide in the wings, South Korea finally started with the Tottenham attacker in the middle but didn’t really looked to have learnt their lesson after conceding another penalty, their second after the Sweden game.
Unable to win the ball back after a Mexico counter, defender Youngoong Lee slided into Andrés Guardado, handling the ball in the process inside his own box. The referee directed to the spot and Carlos Vela sent goalkeeper Hyeonwoo Jo the wrong way, giving Mexico a 1-0 lead by the 26th minute.
Three minutes later, Mexico countered again and nearly scored a second, with Jo putting a finger-tip save to Miguel Layun’s pile driver from outside the box.
While Korea had little or no answer to Mexico’s counter-atacking game – something even the Germans couldn’t find a resolution to – they troubled the North American’s defence every time Son had the ball. His two sudden bursts in the 22nd and 40th minute had the Mexican defenders running for life but those through the middle came very few and far in between diminishing Korea’s chances.
Son eventually scored a stunner from outside the box, curling an effort into the top left corner in the third minute of added-time but by then ‘Chicharito’ had netted his 50th goal international goal and Mexico had taken a 2-0 lead. The former Manchester Untied forward placing a low shot into the Korean net after Hirving Lozano had initiated a quick-counter in the 66th minute.
Mexico with the victory earned their entry into the round of 16 while Korea endured another disappointing campaign and will be heading home after playing Germany on June 28.