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
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
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
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.