S. Korea grind down Iran to seal penalty win

Updated: 2007-07-23 09:03

South Korea beat Iran 4-2 on penalties after a gruelling 0-0 draw in humid conditions to reach the Asian Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

Kim Jung-woo converted the winning spot-kick to send the inexperienced Koreans through to a last-four clash with Iraq on Wednesday at the same Bukit Jalil Stadium.

Victory avenged Korea's 4-3 quarter-final loss to Iran at the 2004 Asian Cup in China and levelled their Asian Cup quarter-final meetings over four consecutive tournaments at 2-2.

Korea coach Pim Verbeek was pleased that his young players stood up to a virtual Iranian World Cup line-up.

"I'm very proud of the team," Verbeek told reporters. "They worked very hard against a strong team and finished the game very strongly.

"They were mentally prepared for the penalty kicks and we can now look forward to the next game against Iraq."

Iran, who practised penalties specially in training, used substitute goalkeeper Vahid Taliblou for the shootout, replacing Hassan Roudbarian in the 119th-minute.

But Verbeek's players had the cooler heads, sending their more than 4,000 vocal Korean supporters into ecstasy.

Iran coach Amir Ghalenoei felt his team dominated the match against the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists.

"That's football," he said. "The players did exactly what I asked them to but only the final touch let them down.

"I am happy with their performance and I am the one who should take full responsibility for this defeat."

Showing good individual skills and support play, the Koreans had a dominant spell midway through the first half, with Oh Beom-seok stumbling after a mazy run and Lee Chun-soo's deflected shot well saved by Roudbarian.

Iran's best chance of the half came in the 42nd minute when Ali Karimi found himself one-on-one with Korean goalkeeper Lee Woon-jai, who saved at his feet.


Iran pressed forward after halftime but a rare defensive mistake in the 60th minute allowed Yeom Ki-hun a good chance to shoot from outside the box.

With neither side able to break the deadlock, the match went to extra time. Iran had the better chances but tired legs meant the match ended at snail's pace.

Lee, an experienced shootout campaigner for Korea, emerged as the hero with his two saves and was also named man of the match.

Iran captain Mehdi Mahdavikia and Rassoul Khatibi missed their spot-kicks and only Kim Do-heon failed for the Koreans.

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