5 things we learned from Jordan’s Asian Cup semifinal win over South Korea

5 things we learned from Jordan’s Asian Cup semifinal win over South Korea
Jordan's players celebrate after defeating South Korea at the end of the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup semi-final football match between Jordan and South Korea. (AFP)
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Updated 07 February 2024
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5 things we learned from Jordan’s Asian Cup semifinal win over South Korea

5 things we learned from Jordan’s Asian Cup semifinal win over South Korea
  • Coach Hussein Ammouta proves his pedigree with stunning 2-0 victory that shows little should be read into pre-tournament friendlies

Jordan produced the shock of this AFC Asian Cup by defeating South Korea 2-0 to move into Saturday’s final against the winner of the other semifinal between hosts Qatar and Iran.

Here are five things we learned from the epic match.

Jordan have announced their presence to the world.

There was real emotion at the final whistle, as you would expect at the end of a victorious semifinal, especially a first one.

Jordan has long been a solid national team in Asia and have reached quarterfinals before, as well as the final round of qualification for World Cups, but for the first time they are making headlines, not just in the continent but also around the world.

For Asian fans, Jordan may have been respected, but not especially exciting; a team built on a solid defense and strong teamwork, with Amman long being a tough place to go because of the tight stadiums and intimidating crowds. This is not a team that has traditionally been box office, but this is changing. At this Asian Cup, Jordan have been exhilarating to watch.

Millions of people are waking up to the fact that this Jordan team can go all the way and are a lot stronger than the ranking of 87 suggests. Whatever happens on Saturday against either Qatar or Iran, it has already been a real ride.

Lessons learned from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia were the better team for most of their second-round clash with South Korea. The Green Falcons scored early in the second half and looked quite comfortable until the final stages.

Then they sat deeper and deeper and invited attack after attack from the Koreans. There was no surprise when Cho Gue-sung headed home the equalizer in the 99th minute and from that moment on, there looked to be just one winner.

Jordan did not follow Saudi Arabia’s example. They kept pushing for the second goal and even when that came, they came close to scoring a third. In all, it was a brave performance.

“There is no need to respect the opponent more than necessary,” coach Hussein Ammouta said. “I looked at the statistics of the last five games. Korea conceded eight goals. We can score again. We knew we had it. Our attackers are great, but we created five chances in the first half. We were able to score on our first attack of the second half.”

Attack really is the best form of defense.

The two goalscorers deserve the headlines

Too often the players who score the goals get all the attention, but this time it is hard to disagree, as Yazan Al-Naimat and Mousa Taamari earned all the praise in the world.

The latter usually grabs the headlines for his undoubted skills and the fact that he is one of the few players in the region to play for one of the big leagues in Europe. Taamari was magnificent once again, and his goal was not only one of pace, skill and vision but also killed off any Korean hopes of a comeback.

Al-Naimat, who plays his club football in Qatar, matched his famous teammate step for step. He was a constant offensive threat and almost scored what would have been  perhaps the goal of the tournament. He then got the goal with a perfect dinked finish, one that any striker in the world would be proud of.

It was, of course, a team effort, but with forward players like this, Jordan can go all the way.

Too much should not be read into build-up results.

It is amazing to think just how under the radar Jordan were before it all started. It is hard to blame the pundits. though — the form in the build-up was truly poor. There were five defeats and two draws in the seven games in the second half of 2023 after Ammouta took the job.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia went to Amman in a World Cup qualifier in November and won fairly comfortably, and if anyone had said then that one of the two teams would be in the Asian Cup final a few weeks later, everyone would have assumed that the Green Falcons were being talked about.

Jordan started the year with a 2-1 win over Qatar, but then were thrashed 6-1 by Japan just a few days before the tournament started. Not just that but they finished in third place in the group and have since looked very good, indeed.

There were genuine doubts about Ammouta before it all started and no expectations for the team. The coach proved the doubters wrong and reaffirmed his pedigree. And the team’s exploits in the past three weeks show that football is not a science and that sometimes the common wisdom can be turned on its head.

Teamwork and tactics beats stars.

Korea have the big-name stars, such as Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan, Lee Kang-in and Kim Min-jae, who play for some of the biggest clubs around. There is no doubt that there was talent in the Taeguk Warriors, but these famous names had little impact on the game.

Korea did not seem to have much of a game plan and were taken aback by the intensity of the Jordanian game. They cannot say they were not warned, as the group stage game ended 2-2 only because of a last-minute Jordanian goal.

Korea were made to look second rate, and this is partly because of Jordan preparing so well for this game, getting the tactics right and then working so hard to execute the game plan. It is not enough to have star names; you need to have everything else. At the moment, Jordan have both.


Fernandes double not enough for Man Utd win at Bournemouth

Fernandes double not enough for Man Utd win at Bournemouth
Updated 26 sec ago
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Fernandes double not enough for Man Utd win at Bournemouth

Fernandes double not enough for Man Utd win at Bournemouth
  • A point leaves United still 10 adrift of Aston Villa and Tottenham in the race for a top-four finish with six games to go
  • The Red Devils have now won just once in their last seven Premier League games to leave Erik ten Hag’s future as United boss next season in doubt

BOURNEMOUTH, United Kingdom: Manchester United’s chances of Champions League football next season took another battering as Bruno Fernandes’ double could only salvage a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth on Saturday.
Twice the Cherries led through Dominic Solanke and Justin Kluivert and Bournemouth were denied the opportunity to win the game at the death after a controversial VAR review overturned the decision to award the home side a penalty.
A point leaves United still 10 adrift of Aston Villa and Tottenham in the race for a top-four finish with six games to go.
The Red Devils have now won just once in their last seven Premier League games to leave Erik ten Hag’s future as United boss next season in doubt.
Once again it was United’s defensive deficiencies that were exploited as Bournemouth just missed out on a famous double after winning 3-0 at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
French teenager Willy Kambwala kept his place at center-back with Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof among those absent due to injury.
But Kambwala had a moment to forget for the opening goal as his slip allowed Solanke to pick his spot and fire home his 19th goal of the season.
United had barely threatened as an attacking force before they levelled against the run of play on 31 minutes.
Alejandro Garnacho’s deflected cross fell perfectly into the path of Fernandes to volley into the roof of the net.
Bournemouth were back in front within five minutes as this time Kluivert took advantage of the acres of space offered by the United defense inside the box to drill low past Andre Onana.
Ten Hag’s future as United boss becomes more unsure with every passing week and poor performance.
However, the Dutchman was rewarded for a daring change at half-time as he replaced Garnacho with Amad Diallo.
The Ivorian winger shot to fame with an extra-time winner against Liverpool in a thrilling FA Cup quarter-final last month.
And he helped earn the visitors a point as his deflected shot was handled by Adam Smith inside the area.
Fernandes stepped up to slot the resulting penalty past Neto.
Bournemouth thought they had a spot-kick of their own deep into stoppage time when Kambwala blocked Ryan Christie’s charge into the box.
After a penalty was initially awarded, VAR intervened to say the foul had taken place just outside the box.
A point leaves Bournemouth still in 12th, eight points adrift of United in the European places.


Haaland scores as Man City rout Luton 5-1 to go top of the Premier League

Haaland scores as Man City rout Luton 5-1 to go top of the Premier League
Updated 13 April 2024
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Haaland scores as Man City rout Luton 5-1 to go top of the Premier League

Haaland scores as Man City rout Luton 5-1 to go top of the Premier League
  • Arsenal host Aston Villa on Sunday, when Liverpool take on Crystal Palace
  • With City still in contention for a second straight treble of major trophies, manager Pep Guardiola took the opportunity to rotate his squad

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester City kept up the pressure on Arsenal and Liverpool with an emphatic 5-1 victory over relegation-threatened Luton on Saturday that put the defending champion back atop the English Premier League.
An early own goal from Daiki Hashioka gave City the lead at Etihad Stadium before a fierce shot by Mateo Kovacic and a penalty by Erling Haaland put the game beyond doubt after the break.
Luton earned a consolation goal through Ross Barkley in the 81st but Jeremy Doku and Josko Gvardiol added late goals to wrap up the win, which lifted City two points above Arsenal and Liverpool.
Arsenal host Aston Villa on Sunday, when Liverpool take on Crystal Palace.
With City still in contention for a second straight treble of major trophies, manager Pep Guardiola took the opportunity to rotate his squad and left key midfielder Rodri on the bench after the Spaniard said publicly he needed a rest.
Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva and John Stones also were rested ahead of Real Madrid’s visit on Wednesday in the return leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. But goalkeeper Ederson returned to replace Stefan Ortega and Kevin De Bruyne was back after an illness.
It was a bit of luck, though, that gave City the opener inside two minutes.
Haaland attempted an acrobatic volley after his initial shot was saved, but the ball was heading well wide until it took a huge deflection off Hashioka’s head and ended up in the net.
But Luton defended with great determination and the second goal didn’t come until just after the hour when Kovavic unleashed an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area following a corner.
Doku then won a penalty after being brought down in the area and Haaland calmly sent Thomas Kaminski the wrong way to register his 31st goal of the season in all competitions, but only his second in six games.
Barkley robbed Nunes to pull one back but City finished with a flourish.
Doku claimed the fourth after weaving through the area in the 87th and Gvardiol followed up his fine strike against Madrid with another stunner in stoppage time.


Bayern beat Cologne to delay Leverkusen title party

Bayern beat Cologne to delay Leverkusen title party
Updated 13 April 2024
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Bayern beat Cologne to delay Leverkusen title party

Bayern beat Cologne to delay Leverkusen title party
  • Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel made seven changes to his side ahead of Wednesday’s quarter-final second leg against Arsenal
  • Mueller added a second to seal the result in the third minute of stoppage time

MUNICH: Bayern Munich defender Raphael Guerreiro struck a brilliant second-half goal and Thomas Mueller scored late to beat Cologne 2-0 on Saturday, delaying Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga title party to Sunday at the earliest.
Bayern’s win means Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen, who are 13 points clear of the Bavarians, need to beat Werder Bremen at home on Sunday to lift the Bundesliga trophy for the first time.
Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel made seven changes to his side ahead of Wednesday’s quarter-final second leg against Arsenal, with Harry Kane and Mathys Tel hitting the woodwork in the first half.
Former Borussia Dortmund player Guerreiro, starting at left-back ahead of Alphonso Davies, unleashed a curling shot from outside the box which broke the deadlock after 65 minutes.
Mueller added a second to seal the result in the third minute of stoppage time.
Dortmund and RB Leipzig continued their battle for fourth place — the final guaranteed Champions League spot — with both winning to stay level on points ahead of their clash in Saxony in late April.
Dortmund were reduced to 10 men and made to hold on to a 2-1 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach after Karim Adeyemi was sent off after picking up a second yellow with 35 minutes remaining.
Dortmund were in control after a first-half brace from Marcel Sabitzer, the second from the penalty spot, gave them a two-goal lead after 28 minutes.
Gladbach pulled one back late in the first half when Maximilian Woeber took advantage of some sleepy Dortmund defending from a corner.
Adeyemi, who won a penalty on 48 minutes but had it overturned by VAR, was dismissed seven minutes later after tripping Stefan Lainer.
Leipzig, who sit ahead of Dortmund on goal difference, won 3-0 at home over Wolfsburg thanks to goals from Dani Olmo, Benjamin Sesko and Lois Openda.
The victory came just days after surprisingly poaching Wolfsburg’s sporting director Marcel Schaefer, who won the title with the Wolves as a player in 2009.
Mainz boosted their chances of beating the drop, coming from behind to beat Hoffenheim 4-1 with four second-half goals to pull one point behind Bochum, who drew 1-1 at home with Heidenheim.
Bochum sit in 15th, the final safe spot, after Keven Schlotterbeck scored an own goal but then headed in the equalizer for the hosts in the final minute.
Later on Saturday, Stuttgart can draw level on points with second-placed Bayern with a win when they host Eintracht Frankfurt.


Griezmann strikes twice as Atletico sink Girona

Griezmann strikes twice as Atletico sink Girona
Updated 13 April 2024
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Griezmann strikes twice as Atletico sink Girona

Griezmann strikes twice as Atletico sink Girona
  • Girona took the lead in Madrid with a fourth-minute goal from close range by Artem Dovbyk that took him on to a league-leading 17 goals.
  • Griezmann responded by converting a 34th-minute penalty

MADRID: Atletico Madrid on Saturday completed a good four days as they followed their Champions League quarter-final first-leg victory over Borussia Dortmund with a 3-1 Spanish La Liga victory over third-placed Girona.
Antoine Griezmann scored twice as Diego Simeone’s men moved to within four points of their opponents and pulled five clear of fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao in the race for Champions League qualification.
The Basques play Villarreal on Sunday.
Atletico won the home leg of their European tie 2-1 on Wednesday and visit Dortmund for the second leg on Tuesday.
Girona took the lead in Madrid with a fourth-minute goal from close range by Artem Dovbyk that took him on to a league-leading 17 goals.
Griezmann responded by converting a 34th-minute penalty.
Angel Correa then gave the home side the lead six minutes into added time at the end of the first half.
Griezmann extended his lead five minutes into the second half, taking advantage of a defensive error to fire home his 13th league goal of the season.
With an eye on the game in Germany, the France attacker was then replaced shortly after the hour mark by Marcos Llorente.
Girona’s fifth defeat away from home, gives Barcelona, buoyed by their midweek 3-2 Champions League win at Paris Saint-Germain, the chance to tighten their grip on second when they visit struggling Cadiz in the last game of the day.
Real Madrid, eight points clear at the top, play at Mallorca later on Saturday.


Newcastle hit Tottenham for four to enliven Champions League race

Newcastle hit Tottenham for four to enliven Champions League race
Updated 13 April 2024
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Newcastle hit Tottenham for four to enliven Champions League race

Newcastle hit Tottenham for four to enliven Champions League race
  • Spurs’ lead over the Magpies is cut to 10 points with six games remaining, but Newcastle have a far easier run-in
  • Eddie Howe was forced into a switch to a back three due to Newcastle’s abundance of injuries in defense

NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom: Newcastle stormed into the Premier League’s top six as Alexander Isak scored twice in a 4-0 thrashing of Tottenham to rekindle their outside hopes of a place in next season’s Champions League.
Spurs’ lead over the Magpies is cut to 10 points with six games remaining, but Newcastle have a far easier run-in.
Tottenham conceded five times in the opening 21 minutes of a 6-1 humiliation on their last visit to St. James’ Park and were outmuscled and outclassed once more on Tyneside.
Eddie Howe was forced into a switch to a back three due to Newcastle’s abundance of injuries in defense.
But the home side’s makeshift backline was rarely troubled after Timo Werner skewed an effort wide in a bright start by the visitors.
The game swung decisively in Newcastle’s favor thanks to two goals in two minutes thanks to two errors from Micky van de Ven midway through the first half.
The Dutch center-back has been one of the signings of the season for Spurs, but had an afternoon to forget.
Van de Ven’s first slip allowed Isak to smash home from Anthony Gordon’s pass to open the scoring.
Straight from kick-off, Van de Ven fell over again as he tried to reach Pedro Porro’s backpass and Gordon took full advantage to score his 10th Premier League goal of the campaign.
Newcastle could have had more before the break as Destiny Udogie’s last-ditch challenge denied Isak a second before the Swedish striker headed over from a corner.
But any doubt over the outcome was dismissed six minutes into the second period when Isak again beat Van de Ven to Bruno Guimaraes’ long ball over the top and slotted home.
Isak is now only two behind Erling Haaland’s 19 Premier League goals in the race to win the Golden Boot.
Ange Postecoglou showed his dismay with the Spurs display as captain Son Heung-min was hauled off in a triple substitution before the hour mark.
The visitors also lost right-back Porro to injury to rub salt into the wounds of what could be a damaging day for their hopes of a return to the Champions League next season.
A poor week for English clubs in European competitions means that a place in the top four may be needed to qualify for the Champions League.
Spurs slip behind fourth-placed Aston Villa on goal difference.
But Tottenham have all three of the title contenders — Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City — to play in their final six games, while Villa face both Arsenal and Liverpool.
Postecoglou warned on the eve of the game that Newcastle’s struggles this season show how the demands of European football can drain a squad’s resources.
Yet they could still sneak back into the top four with a strong end to the campaign.
Fabian Schar inflicted the final blow when he rose highest to power in Gordon’s corner three minutes from time.