The World Cup, y’all. There may be lots of reasons, mostly sociopolitical ones, why this World Cup is the worst and most corrupt one ever, but the football? My god. The football has been AMAZING. The last round of the group stage has brought some incredible and dramatic football, none more so than today’s Group H finale, that saw the second qualification spot, contested between South Korea and Uruguay, go down to the wire.
With Korea and Portugal tied at 1-1 and into extra time in the second half, Tottenham Hotspur forward and Korea captain Son Heung-Min, still wearing a face mask after shattering his orbital bone in the Champions League in November, started a blazing counterattack into space, drove to the edge box with the ball at his feet, and nutmegged a Portugal defender with a pass that found teammate (and Wolves striker) Hwang Hee-Chan for what proved to be the winning goal.
This run & pass by Son and finish by Hwang Hee-chan was PERFECTION pic.twitter.com/o1Ymo50xCo— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 2, 2022
As you can imagine, the Korean World Cup television commentary for this goal was INCREDIBLE.
In the other Group H match, Uruguay defeated Ghana 2-0, which meant that Uruguay and Korea ended the group stage tied on points and goal differential behind group winners Portugal, who had already qualified. The second tie-breaker was total goals scored, which gave the edge to Korea. Knowing the Korea-Portugal result and with another six minutes of extra time to play, Uruguay frantically pushed for another goal but came up just short, sending Korean fans in Qatar into raptures.
Meanwhile, Ghanaian fans, knowing their World Cup journey was at an end, were firmly on Team Korea, actively trolling Uruguayans from the stands in the waning moments of the match.
Ghana fans singing "Korea, Korea, Korea" as Luis Suarez looks heartbroken on the big screen!— Isaac Fanin (@isaac_fanin) December 2, 2022
It was pretty neat. Sonny cried. We’ve seen Sonny cry a number of times over the years, usually in the way that makes Spurs fans (like me) want to give him a consoling hug. This was in the GOOD way, with Sonny watering the pitch of the Education City Stadium with tears of pure joy and making Tottenham fans want to give him a hug of celebration. Either way, Sonny gets a hug from Spurs fans, which is pretty great if you’re a Spurs fan who wants to hug Son Heung-Min. And who wouldn’t?
As cool as it was to see Son Heung-Min, one of the most universally beloved members of Tottenham’s squad, make it into the knock-out rounds of the World Cup, it wasn’t all good news for Spurs fans. Uruguay international Rodrigo Bentancur started the match against Ghana, but was substituted in the 34th minute after picking up an injury. He left on his own power which suggests that the substitution may have been precautionary, but Sonny’s happiness meant that Lolo is heading back to London to rest, recuperate, and start training with Antonio Conte ahead of Spurs’ next match on Boxing Day.
After the match, a still emotional Sonny gave an interview to Korean reporters where, in typical Sonny fashion, he basically apologized for not being as good a player and captain as he could’ve been and said how proud he was of his team for making it this far. (The tweet with the Korean interview was deleted from Twitter)
We've been imagining this moment for a long time. We all believed we could do it, but everyone exceeded our expectations. I was lacking as a captain and I'm thankful to everyone for picking up my slack. I'm so proud of them— dragonball ki (키출 쉰) (@dragonballki) December 2, 2022
What a man. What a mensch. Son Heung-Min may not have scored yet in this tournament, but he’s still Korea’s best player, its captain, and its talismanic talent. Sonny deserves international recognition and support and love. Definitely love. And the best part is that we get to watch him play in the World Cup at least one more time.
I feel sorry for Rodrigo Bentancur. But this is excellent content.