FIFA World Cup Qualifying: South Korea 0 Iran 1
By Football News
Iran and South Korea both qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup after the former claimed a snatch-and-grab 1-0 win in Ulsan.
South Korea headed into the match on top of Group A with 14 points, knowing that a draw would guarantee their place at next year's World Cup in Brazil.
But despite dominating their match, they were unable to find a way past Iran goalkeeper Rahman Ahmadi and Reza Ghoochannejhad made them pay at the other end with a goal against the run of play.
Iran held on for a gutsy victory as they qualified for the fourth World Cup in their history, while their opponents endured a nervy few minutes as they waited for Uzbekistan's match against Qatar to finish.
Uzbekistan, who needed to score six goals more than their opponents to confirm their place at the World Cup after South Korea lost, scored five in the last 30 minutes but could only beat Qatar 5-1.
That meant that both Iran and South Korea qualified, giving the dramatic night a happy ending.
South Korea burst out of the blocks and Kim Shin-Wook fired an early volley over, while Lee Dong-Cook tested Ahmadi from distance.
Repeated attempts on goal from South Korea were unsuccessful as Ahmadi performed excellently and they had nothing to show from their five attempts on target in the first half.
Iran started well in the second half and took the lead after 60 minutes as Kim Young-Gwon was made to pay for dallying in defence.
Kim failed to clear a ball down the right, completely missing an attempted clearance and Ghoochannejhad stole in behind him to win the ball.
From there the striker – who plays his club football at Standard Liege in Belgium – burst into the penalty area before curling a lovely left-foot effort past goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong.
The goal triggered South Korea into action and Kim had an effort blocked from three yards before Ahmadi reacted to deny Son Heung-Min.
Jang Hyun-Soo flashed a late effort wide while substitute Lee Keun-Ho wasted a golden chance, heading Kim Chi-Woo's cross just past the post in stoppage time.
But Carlos Quieroz's side held on for a terrific victory that will see them contest the World Cup for the first time since 2006.
And South Korea will be in Brazil also, despite Uzbekistan's best efforts, making it a night of double celebration in Ulsan.
Uzbekistan finished third – behind South Korea on goal difference, by just one goal – and will now play Oman in the fifth-placed play-off.
The winner of that fixture will play the fifth-best side in CONMEBOL qualifying, over two legs, for a place in Brazil.
Earlier on Tuesday, Australia also qualified for the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Iraq in Group B.