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  • FT



    South Korea



Qatar Sports Club Stadium

Referee: Ravshan Irmatov | Attendance: 7111

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South Korea

  • Bit-garam Yoon 105' +1'

Korea edge past Iran

An extra-time goal from substitute Yoon Bit-garam sent South Korea through to the semi-finals of the Asian Cup at the expense of Iran at Qatar Sports Club Stadium.

• Cho: Midfield battle was key

The teams were going head to head at the quarter-final stage of the continental tournament for the fifth successive edition and once again it was a typically closely-fought affair.

As in 2007, neither side could break the deadlock inside 90 minutes but Yoon ensured penalties would not be needed when he struck from the edge of the area in the last seconds of the first period of extra time.

The victory for the South Koreans sets up the enticing prospect of a semi-final clash with east Asian rivals Japan on Tuesday.

The strength of Cho Kwang-rae's side lies in their speed and they were certainly quick off the mark in the match as the won a free-kick after just two minutes, but Celtic midfielder Ki Sung-yueng could only send his effort into the wall.

Ki again threatened after 13 minutes when he sent a powerful volley just wide before Celtic team-mate Cha Du-ri failed to produce the shot his rampaging run into the box deserved as he scuffed an effort harmlessly wide.

Iran had largely been quiet but perhaps came the closest of either side to opening the scoring midway through the half when Ji Dong-won almost headed Mohammad Reza Khalatbari's free-kick into his own goal, but keeper Jung Sung-ryong did well to push away the danger.

Park Ji-sung had a half chance soon after the restart when he tried his luck from outside the area but his shot was deflected wide by an Iran defender.

Mahdi Rahmati had to be alert in the Iran goal when Ji headed straight at the stopper from close range after the South Korea forward had risen to connect with a fine Cha cross.

But it became clear as the half wore on that the two sides were not going to be separated inside 90 minutes and so it proved as Pejman Nouri's lashed shot signalled the last effort of normal time.

They continued to cancel each other out in extra time and it looked as though penalties would be needed to determine a winner before Yoon was allowed to run to the edge of area and the midfielder dispatched a powerful shot into the back of the net.

  • Cho: Midfield battle was key

    South Korea boss Cho Kwang-Rae felt winning the midfield battle was the key to victory over Iran.

    "Iran are a good team and have had good performances in each game, but the main reason we won this is because we controlled midfield," he said. "We did not let them play their own game.

    "All the players have worked really hard in all four games to show the possibilities of Korean football and the changes we are trying to implement. They have a strong will to make things happen."

    Next up for South Korea is an enticing clash with regional rivals Japan, who have looked stronger with every game at the tournament.

    And, although Cho acknowledged it will not be an easy game, he insisted Alberto Zaccheroni's side hold no fear for him.

    "The next match against Japan is one of the most crucial matches we are going to play," he said. "I agree that Japan have been getting better and better throughout the tournament in every aspect of their game.

    "But I never get scared about the Japanese team, even when I was a player and as a coach, so I am not afraid of them."

    Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi had talked up his side's chances of winning the Asian Cup in the build-up to the tournament and, although they have fallen short of achieving his target, the 46-year-old was proud of the efforts of his players.

    "The potential of Iranian football is massive," said Ghotbi, who steps down to take charge of Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse.

    "The players have tremendous intelligence and qualities. If they are given the right education and support they can play with the best in the world.

    "I feel they pushed South Korea to the limit and I am very proud of this team, and I have a positive feeling about the future of these players."