Iraq secured a place in the Asian Cup quarter-finals as Kerrar Jasim's first-half goal edged out North Korea at Al Rayyan Stadium.
In a largely uninspiring Group D clash, Jasim's opportunist strike after 22 minutes proved the difference as the Koreans exited the tournament without finding the back of the net.
Iraq needed just a point to confirm their passage into the last eight and Mustafa Kareem went close to breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute when he met Mahdi Kareem's corner with a powerful downward header but was unfortunate to see the ball bounce up and hit the underside of the bar with goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk beaten.
It proved only temporary respite for the Koreans, however, as Iraq took the lead five minutes later. Ri could only parry Mustafa Kareem's swerving effort from 25 yards and Jasim was quickest to react and slid the loose ball home.
Jong Tae-se saw a free-kick from distance held by goalkeeper Mohammed Kassid before Kareem could have added to Iraq's advantage eight minutes before the break but the forward volleyed Jasim's cross well wide from six yards.
Ryang Yong-gi tested Kassid as the second half got under way while Jasim's shot whistled just over the bar at the other end.
Clear chances were at a premium, however, and although North Korea showed more attacking intent, they were unable to seriously threaten as the goals they needed to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout stage eluded them.
Jong forced Kassid into a smart save and Hong saw a goalbound shot deflected wide as Iraq maintained their advantage to reach the last eight and set up a clash with Australia.
Wolfgang Sidka hailed a professional performance from his Iraq side after they clinched an Asian Cup quarter-final meeting with Australia with a victory over North Korea.
"If they were allowed to attack, sure, they would have been able to get back into it but we imposed ourselves on the match," said Sidka.
"We kept the ball, especially in the first half. We had a lot of ball
possession so we didn't allow them to create opportunities. It was always our
plan that we would have more ball possession and not let them play.
"The most important thing is that we are now playing Australia in the
quarter-final. I think we deserve this victory. We played very well, especially
in the first half.
"I was very satisfied with the way we played. In the last 20 minutes, North
Korea did everything to try to get back into the match so we lost a little bit
of possession and control of the match but not too much.
"In the end, 1-0, I think we deserve it. We are happy and we are looking
forward to the quarter-final."
North Korea exit the tournament with one point and no goals to their name and
coach Jo Tong-sop feels they will have to adapt their counter-attacking style if
they are to garner future success.
"We gained good experience during this tournament," said Jo.
"We understand defending is important but that attacking is more important.
Using the experience gained in this tournament, we will try to be more attacking
in the future.
"Our Under-20 team has good technical players so we will try to combine the
young players with the national-team players and we will try to display our
abilities more in terms of attacking in the future."