Korea See off Iran on Penalties

Iran went out of the 2007 Asian Cup after losing 2-4 on penalties in their quarterfinal match against Korea, which they played at Malaysia’s Bukit Jalil National stadium on Sunday.

Korea's players celebrate after beating Iran 4 - 2 on penalties

The Iranians missed two spot-kicks but Korea’s Lee Chun-Soo, Kim Sang-Sik, Cho Jae-Jin and Kim Jung-Woo made no mistake in scoring, to seal a 4-2 shootout victory.

During normal time, Iranian Ali Karimi’s close-range shot was denied by Korean Lee Woon-Jae, whilst at the other end of the pitch, Yeom Ki-Hun’s fierce strike forced a brilliant save from goalkeeper Roudbarian, but the score line remained 0-0 by the end of normal-time.     

Kim Sang-Sik missed Korea’s third penalty in the shootout, but as goalkeeper Lee Woon-Jae denied efforts by Mehdi Mahdavikia and Rasoul Khatibi, the Eastern Asian side were able to progress to the last four. 

Korea will now take on Iraq in the semi-finals at the same venue on Wednesday.

During the match, both sides showed attacking intentions in the opening exchanges with Korea’s Lee Chun-Soo going close in the sixth minute when his free-kick from 20 meters went sailing over the bar.

Yeom Ki-Hun’s strong running caused plenty of problems for the Iranians and very nearly resulted in an opening goal in the 23rd minute, when he ran through the heart of the Iranian defense, only to stumble on the soggy pitch as he closed in on goal.

A minute later, goalkeeper Hassan Roudbarian had to dive low to his left to keep out a shot by Kim Sang-Sik, which took a slight deflection off Lee Chun-Soo on the edge of the box.

Iran were struggling to control the pace of the Koreans, but Mehdi Mahdvikia almost caught out the east Asians with a quick break on the half-hour, holding off Kim Chi-Woo inside the Korean box before knocking his attempt wide.

As the half ended, the Iranians enjoyed the best chances, with Ali Karimi denied by the feet of Lee Woon-Jae in the 42nd minute after receiving a neat pass from Vahid Hashemian. Kim Jin-Kyu then blocked Mahdavikia’s attempt in the six-yard box.

The Koreans nearly broke the deadlock ten minutes from time when Yeom Ki-Hun powered in a fierce shot from the edge of the box but goalkeeper Roudbarian managed to punch it away.

There were few clear-cut chances in the remaining minutes; Javad Nekounam fired a fierce drive from 30 meters straight at Lee Woon-jae before Zandi put in a low cross from the left flank to fellow substitute Enayati, who put his shot wide at the far post.

For the second time in this year’s Asian Cup, extra-time was required, but that also brought precious few chances; the Koreans were close to scoring in the 99th minute, when Choi Sung-Kuk’s corner kick was flicked across goal by Kang Min-Soo.

Mahdavikia forced Lee Woon-Jae into a diving stop early in the second extra period but with both sides tiring on the heavy pitch, a penalty shootout became almost inevitable.

Iran brought on goalkeeper Vahid Taleblou in place of Roudbarian in the dying seconds for the shootout, his lanky frame keeping out Kim Do-Heon’s third attempt for the Koreans.

However, Lee Woon-Jae kept out attempts by Mahdavikia and Khatibi, allowing Kim Jung-Woo to roll home the winning strike, sending Korea through to face Iraq in the semifinals.

By Hoang Uy

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