Despite South Korea largely dominating the run of play, it was Honduras celebrating at the end of their 2016 Olympics men's soccer tournament quarterfinal match, having upset the Koreans in a 1-0 triumph on the strength of a counter-attacking goal from Alberth Elis. It was a stunning result, and now Honduras will go on to the semifinals, further than almost anyone thought they would before the tournament.
The first half of the match was clearly controlled by South Korea, who dominated possession and were able to consistently threaten Honduras' defense, especially through dangerous runs from Son Heung-Min and Ryu Seung-Woo. Son in particular was a constant threat to Honduras, popping up all over the final third looking to make that vital pass or take the shot for himself.
For all that quality, though, Korea couldn't find a way to put the ball in the back of the net, and rarely even got their shots on target. Honduras' defense was resolute and up to the task, and they were able to occasionally threaten Korea's defense on the counter, especially from the creative play out wide by Rommel Quioto. Korea had the upper hand in the run of play, but either side could have opened the scoring in the first half. Neither were able to find a way to score in the first 45 minutes.
Korea almost had their first goal right after the start of the second half, with a gorgeous attacking move just moments after the whistle that forced Luis Lopez to make a fantastic save. He'd been fairly active in cutting off crosses and aggressively keeping Korea at bay in the first half, and Lopez continued to acquit himself well in the second half as well.
Unfortunately for Honduras, Lopez was injured ten minutes into the half after making another excellent save off a shot from Son at close range, landing heavily on his left shoulder and needing several minutes of work from the trainers to get back into the match. He would stay in the match, but the injury still hurt Honduras as Lopez lacked the quick reach to that side he'd had earlier, and consistently hesitated just a beat to go to the ground when he needed to -- at this level, that one beat can make a world of difference. Lopez had enough troubles with his shoulder that later on he'd make several save attempts basically trying to fall on top of the ball instead of putting his body in front of it and landing on his hurting left side, a much riskier approach that nearly cost him several times.
Honduras gave him a lot of room to work with not long after the injury, however, when Quioto shredded Korea's midfield on a counter attacking run and picked out Elis' run to the far post with a perfectly weighted past. Elis had just one defender to beat, and he did it with ease, taking a step inside and slotting the ball past Korea's goalkeeper to put his country up 1-0 completely against the run of play.
Honduras would actually have the next clear scoring chances as well, with Quioto again playing creator, bursting into the final third and putting a ball in for striker Antony Lozano. Quioto and Lozano weren't quite on the same page, though, with Lozano moving to the near post while Quioto seemed to expect him to go to the far post, and the chance ended in a goal kick for South Korea. Quioto tried to score himself moments later, but couldn't get a point-blank range shot over goalkeeper Gu Sung-Yun.
South Korea just couldn't recover from Honduras' goal, never managing to get their attack back together after going down. They pressed too hard and made too many mistakes in the attacking half of the pitch, and after not capitalizing on their early chances that was more than enough to see them go home early instead of moving onto the semifinals.
Honduras continue to be one of the surprising stories of the Olympics tournament so far. They outplayed Argentina despite suffering a draw in the group stage, and gave Portugal their toughest match of the group as well, on top of a dominant performance against Algeria. They've definitely earned their semifinal berth, and seeing what they can manage from here will be fascinating to see.