South Korea Ratings: Son Heung-min stars in semifinal win against Iraq
Two-time winners South Korea are through to the final of the 2015 Asian Cup after accounting for 2007 champions Iraq 2-0 in the first semifinal in Sydney on Monday night.
After three 1-nil victories in the group stage, including an impressive win over Australia with an injury-weakened and flu-ravaged side, this Korean side is finding better attacking cohesion, adding goals to a rock-solid defence that has yet to be breached in 480 minutes of football.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kim Jin-hyeon, 5.5 -- Went badly walkabout in the 47th minute, but luckily his side wasn't punished. Kim was not overly tested by a shot shy Iraqi frontline.
DF Cha Du-ri, 7.5 -- Was a constant menace down the right touchline and was characteristically solid. Supplied a pinpoint cross for Lee Jeong-hyeop's opener and hardly put a foot wrong. A brilliant block and then tackle in the 57th minute typified his performance.
DF Kwak Tae-hwi, 7 -- Didn't have too much to do but marshalled his defence well, keeping a tight rein on Younus Mahmood and matching the iconic Iraqi striker comfortably in the air.
DF Kim Young-gwon, 8 -- Showed brilliant technique to knock home South Korea's second, albeit courtesy a deflection. Not bad feet for a centre-half.
DF Kim Jin-su, 7.5 -- Looked to get forward many times. Kim had a reasonably solid delivery and kept Amjed Kalaf largely quiet. He made a crucial interception in the 88th minute to prevent Younus Mahmood bringing Iraq back into the game.
MF Ki Sung-yeung, 6.5 -- Went into the book early, so wasn't looking to impose himself overly much. Broke up play comfortably and left his back four with little to do.
MF Park Joo-ho, 7 -- Generally tidy in possession, he worked well in tandem with Ki Sung-yueng to screen his backline. Park showed glimpses of temper, clashing notably with Mahmood in the shadow of half-time.
MF Han Kyo-won, 6.5 -- Linked well with his fellow attackers, but didn't feature prominently. Substituted at halftime.
MF Nam Tae-hee, 6.5 -- Again in the shadow of Son Heung-min, but typically industrious in the fashion that Uli Stielike would appreciate.
MF Son Heung-min, 8 -- By far Korea's best attacking outlet, the Bayer Leverkusen star had a string of chances, none of them clear cut, and he kept Iraqi custodian Jalal Hassan on his toes.
FW Lee Jeong-hyeop, 7.5 -- Connected brilliantly with Cha Du-ri's cross in the 18th minute for the opener, also showed great composure to chest down for Kim Young-gwon's volleyed goal.
Based in Sydney, Richard was the football analyst on SBS TV's prime-time 2014 World Cup show The Full Brazilian. He writes a regular A-League tactics column for The Guardian, and hosted the 2010 World Cup for SBS radio. You can follow him on Twitter @rrjparkin