Reuters - South Korea and Iran drew 1-1 in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday, dashing the Middle Eastern team's hopes of an automatic place in next year's finals.
South Korea had already qualified for South Africa.
Iran are level on points in Asian qualifying Group Two with
North Korea and Saudi Arabia, who meet later on Wednesday, and
need the Saudis to lose to secure a playoff place.
Several Iran players wore green armbands early in the match
in what appeared to be a show of support for defeated
presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi while their fans
unfurled banners at the stadium reading: "Free Iran".
Iran went ahead through an own goal in the 51st minute from
South Korea's Kim Dong-jin, who was tightly marking Iran's
Masoud Shojaei. Kim was hit by a cross and the ball slid past
helpless goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae.
South Korea equalised through a masterful goal from Park
Ji-sung. The Manchester United midfielder took a short pass from
Lee Keun-ho, beat a defender and tucked a left-foot shot just
under the bar in the 81st minute.
Iran, fourth in the standings going into the match, needed
to beat group leaders South Korea and hope North Korea and Saudi
Arabia drew to secure the second automatic qualification slot.
South Korea will be playing in their seventh consecutive
World Cup finals.