Have South Korea reached the World Cup last 16 before?

Jude Summerfield
South Korea are into the knockout stages
South Korea are into the knockout stages / Amin Mohammad Jamali/GettyImages
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South Korea pulled off one of the greatest results in their history by beating Portugal on Friday, squeezing through Group H as runners up to eliminate Uruguay in the process.

2018 brought heartbreak for the Taegeuk Warriors as they were sent home before the knockout phase, despite a final matchday victory over then holders Germany.

In Qatar this time, however, Son Heung-min and co. have defied the odds to reach the final 16. Following a draw with Uruguay and defeat to Ghana, South Korea beat Portugal to reach the knockouts.


Have South Korea reached the World Cup last 16 before?

South Korea have only made it out of the group stages twice before - in 2002 and 2010.

The 2002 World Cup is the stuff of South Korean legend. As co-hosts, South Korea went undefeated in Group D, beating Poland and Portugal either side of a 1-1 draw with the United States.

The last 16 clash with Italy is memorable for more controversial reasons. Referee Byron Moreno was criticised around the world for a number of suspect calls that hindered the Azzurri, who had endured officiating difficulties against Croatia and Mexico previously, seeing four goals disallowed.

In extra-time against Korea, Francesco Totti was controversially sent off for a second yellow for an alleged dive in the South Korea penalty area - Moreno was miles away from the action and determined the Roma legend had gone down looking for a foul. Damiano Tommasi was then flagged for offside when clean through, with replays showing the decision was a poor one.

The penalty shootout victory over Spain in the quarter-finals was more than a little spicy, too. La Roja had two seemingly legitimate goals disallowed and tight offside calls went against them all game.

“Everyone saw two perfectly good goals. If Spain didn’t win it’s because they didn’t let us win, ” Spaniard Ivan Helguera said after the game. Referee Gamal Al-Ghandour's performance was certainly not impressive to many.

Hopes of a maiden final appearance came to an end in the semi-finals against Germamy as Michael Ballack's 75th-minute strike separated the sides. South Korea would also go on to lose the third place playoff 3-2 to Turkey.

A little more recently in 2010, South Korea squeezed through a group containing Argentina, Greece and Nigeria.

Lee Jung-soo and Park Ji-sung netted in a 2-0 opening victory over Greece, though a 4-1 defeat to Argentina dented their hopes somewhat. They managed to edge through with a 2-2 draw against Nigeria, setting up a clash with Uruguay.

That game proved a step too far. Luis Suarez's double saw the South Americans into the quarter- finals, with Lee Chung-yong's strike proving to be just a consolation.


Who will South Korea face in the 2022 World Cup last 16?

South Korea's reward for fighting their way through the group stages is a meeting with the winners of Group G, which is expected to be Brazil. The two sides met as recently as June earlier this year as Neymar scored two penalties in a crushing 5-1 win.

South Korea have only beaten Brazil once in nine attempts - in 1999, when Kim Do-hoon proved enough to beat a Selecao side including legends like Cafu, Juninho, Ze Roberto and Rivaldo.

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