DOHA: Jo Hyeon-woo was the hero as South Korea progressed to the Asian Cup quarter-finals in Qatar with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Saudi Arabia at Education City Stadium after the teams shared a 1-1 draw at the end of extra-time.

Jo saved attempts from Sami Al Naji and Abdulrahman Ghareeb in the third and fourth rounds of spot-kicks to leave Hwang Hee-chan to smash the winning penalty into the top corner and set up a meeting with Australia at Al Janoub Stadium on Friday.

The game went to penalties after Abdullah Radif had given the Saudis the lead less than a minute into the second half but Cho Gue-sung levelled nine minutes into injury time with a header to take proceedings into extra-time as Korean desperation to equalise paid off.

With an additional 30 minutes unable to separate the teams, Hwang hit the decisive penalty after Jo’s pair of saves left the crestfallen Saudis to wait for another three years to reclaim the title they last won in 1996.

A frantic end to normal time contrasted with the cagey opening that featured few opportunities, and so tight were the margins throughout the first 45 minutes that mistakes or set pieces represented the most likely way through for both teams.

Mohammed Al Burayk’s 41st minute corner was headed against the post by Saleh Al Shehri with the ball coming back off the frame for Ali Lajami to thump his attempt onto the crossbar before Salem Al Dawsari saw his header feathered wide by the fingertips of Jo.

The Taeguk Warriors’ fortune was to desert them seconds after the restart as Mancini’s decision to replace the largely ineffective Al Shehri with Radif paid off immediately.

Less than 30 seconds into the half Al Burayk’s pass inside from the left to Al Dawsari was deftly cushioned into Radif’s path by the Al Hilal playmaker and the substitute took one touch to control before shooting successfully across Jo to the delight of the Saudi fans.

The Koreans, desperate to keep alive their quest for their first AFC Asian Cup in 64 years, threw everything forward in the dying minutes and their determination eventually paid off.

Ahmed Al Kassar twice denied Seol Young-woo and Hassan Al Tambakhti kept out Son Heung-min’s goal-bound attempt before Cho injury time header came back off the crossbar.

Under the weight of Korean persistence the Saudi resistance finally broke when Cho headed in from close range in the ninth of 10 minutes added on at the end of the game, after Seol Young-woo nodded the ball back across the face of goal.

The Koreans looked the more likely to score in extra-time, but Kim Min-jae’s header was beaten to safety by Al Kassar eight minutes into the first period and Cho squandered a clear opening when he laid the ball off rather than shoot with the Saudi goalkeeper stranded.

Al Kassar then threw himself to his left to keep out Lee Kang-in’s goal-bound 115th minute strike and, after the game moved into a shoot-out after Jo denied Radif’s late effort, the Koreans eventually emerged triumphant.