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WATCH: Son sends South Korea to Asian Games knockout rounds

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It’s safe to say the marking at the Asian Games is a step down from both the Premier League and World Cup.

Tottenham Hotspur star Heung-Min Son scored the only goal of the game as South Korea beat Kyrgyzstan on Monday to keep its gold medal hopes alive at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

[ MORE: Klopp on beating Palace ]

Son did not start the first two group stage matches as South Korea battered Bahrain and lost to Malaysia, and getting a win over Monday’s opponents means a tricky Round of 16 match against Iran.

A loss would likely have Son back in England for Spurs’ next match, a big early test against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

South Korean captain signs for Newcastle United

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Ki Sung-Yueng is staying in the Premier League even as his Swansea City side joins the Championship.

South Korea’s captain is signing a two-year deal with Newcastle United. He had two goals and two assists in under 2,000 minutes for Swans last season.

[ MORE: World Cup roundtable ]

The Chronicle claims that Everton, West Ham, and AC Milan wanted to sign Ki, but the 29-year-old opted for a return to Northeast England having played on loan for rivals Sunderland.

Ki has also played for Celtic and FC Seoul, and is fresh off another stint captaining South Korea at the World Cup. Ki has 104 caps with 10 goals. From NUFC.co.uk:

“I’m so pleased I can join the club. I was always pleasantly surprised when I came to St. James’ Park to play against Newcastle – there is a great atmosphere and the passion from the fans is a great support to the players.

“Everyone knows how big this club is so I’m really looking forward to playing with my teammates and for the fans.”

Son after Spurs’ smashing equalizer: “Obiang’s goal was better”

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The festive season finished with a bang, well, bangs, as Pedro Obiang and Heung-Min Son smashed second half stunners in a 1-1 draw between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on Thursday.

[ MORE: Recap | Watch both goals ]

After saying Spurs were “upset and unlucky” to not leave the match. with all three points, Son turned his attention to the twin screamers.

From the BBC:

“Obiang’s goal was better – the strike was unbelievable. We have the best goalkeeper in the world and he can’t do nothing. It was a great strike. My goal is not important, a beautiful goal or a dirty goal, it doesn’t matter tonight.”

Spurs outshot West Ham 31-3, and Obiang’s goal was the Irons’ first on target effort of the night.

For the 24-year-old Son, one of the more under-appreciated and versatile attackers in a top league, it’s the seventh PL goal of the season. He scored 14 last season, a career-high.

AFC World Cup qualifying: Two surprise nations on pace for Russia

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A pair of surprises would be headed for Russia if Asian World Cup qualifying finishes the way it stands after four match days.

Because of that, we’d also have an incredible playoff match for the fifth spot with Japan and South Korea points off the pace.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifiers ]

The surprises come courtesy of Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. The former some of us saw coming, the latter not-so-much.

Here’s how it all played out on Tuesday.

Iran 1-0 South Korea

Sardar Azmoun continued his insane run to start life as a senior international, as the 21-year-old Rostov striker netted his 16th goal in 22 caps for Iran, which is atop Group A while Korea Republic slips third.

Uzbekistan 2-0 China

The White Wolves rebounded from a home loss to Iran to clinch its third win of qualifying on two second half goals. Veteran Marat Bikmaev and 20-year-old Otabek Shukurov scored for the hosts.

Australia 1-1 Japan

Aston Villa midfielder Mile Jedinak converted a 52nd minute penalty to keep Australia in an automatic qualifying spot, one point ahead of Japan. The visitors opened the scoring through Hertha Berlin winger Genki Haraguchi in the fifth.

Saudi Arabia 3-0 United Arab Emirates

Both sides had the chance to take advantage of group powers Australia and Japan drawing, and it was the Saudis who got the job done on goals from three different players. The Green Falcons lead Group B with 10 points, while UAE is a point back of Japan and sits fourth.

Qatar 1-0 Syria

The lone goal of the game comes from a Hassan Al Haidous penalty.

Iraq 4-0 Thailand

Not one, not two, not three, but four goals came from 23-year-old Mohannad Abdul-Raheem, who plays for Al-Zawra’a SC in Iraq.

World Cup qualifying: Asian sides face separation day on Tuesday

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A quartet of miserable performing sides means very few Asian sides can feel even close to certain about their slots in Russia after Tuesday’s fourth match day.

Thailand, Iraq, and Qatar have failed to find a single point through three matches, while China is barely better thanks to a home draw with Iran.

We could see some separation from the pack at the top end and some lifelines at the bottom come Tuesday, however. No less than three matches pit teams with six or seven points.

[ MORE: $225 million offer for Neymar? ]

The day begins with the probable best of the bunch. Ageless Tim Cahill and Australia dropped their first points of qualifying in Thursday’s draw in Saudi Arabia, and now host Japan in Melbourne. The Samurai Blue has rebounded from an opening day upset at home to UAE, but those were expected wins against Thailand and Iraq. Australia is a different story.

No players have scored more in qualifying than UAE‘s Ahmed Khalil and Saudi Arabia‘s Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, with 14 goals each. Both will aim to go atop Group B, hopeful of an Australia loss or tie.

Over in Group A, things are only a little less congested between the Top Four. World Cup veteran sides Iran and South Korea will tangle. The hosting Taegeuk Warriors have yet to lose in qualifying and the same can be said for Team Melli. Should be a fun one.

As for the lifelines, Iraq hosts Thailand and a loser would be a minimum of six points adrift of even a World Cup playoff spot. Qatar needs to hold serve against a Syria side which could sneak into the Group A discussion with a road win.

Tuesday matches
Australia vs. Japan — 5 a.m. ET
Iraq vs. Thailand — 8:30 a.m. ET
Uzbekistan vs. China — 9 a.m. ET
Iran vs. South Korea — 10:45 a.m. ET
Qatar vs. Syria — Noon ET
Saudi Arabia vs. UAE — 1:45 p.m. ET