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Son close to escaping military duty as Koreans reach final

Cibinong, Wednesday @PeopleSports11

Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min played a captain’s role as South Korea beat plucky Vietnam 3-1 to reach the Asian Games final on Wednesday.

The World Cup star, who is missing the start of the Premier League season to represent his country in Indonesia, is now just 90 minutes away from a gold medal that would spare him a career-threatening spell of military service.

“I don’t think I need to say anything. We’re close to winning gold, to making history, and we will fight for it,” said Son, refusing to be drawn on the subject.

A double from Lee Seung-woo and another goal from free-scoring striker Hwang Ui-jo sent the Koreans through to this weekend’s final, where they face either Japan or the United Arab Emirates as they chase a record fifth title.

Lee smashed South Korea in front after just seven minutes in Cibinong, near Jakarta, following some nifty footwork from Hwang Hee-chan.

Son’s clever flick provided the assist for Hwang Ui-jo to extend their advantage just before the half-hour mark.

Darting in behind the Vietnamese defence, Hwang—hat-trick hero of Korea’s 4-3 quarter-final win over Uzbekistan earlier this week—clinically hooked in his ninth goal of the tournament.

Lee stabbed in his second, and his team’s third, 10 minutes after the interval before Vietnam pulled one back through a dipping free kick from Tran Minh Vuong with 20 minutes left.

Once heralded as the “Korean Messi” after signing for Barcelona as a 12-year-old, Lee was carried off for treatment after being run over by beefy Syrian referee Masoud Tufayelieh, although little was damaged except his pride. “It was a difficult game,” said Son, who was removed as a precaution after 72 minutes while on a booking.   -AFP

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