Iran crashes out of Asian Cup
An extra-time winner by substitute Yoon Bit-garam against a defensive and cautious Iran has booked South Korea a place in the semifinals of the 2011 Asian Cup, Press TV reported.
In their worst performance in the tournament, the Iranians crashed out of the Asian Cup with a 1-0 loss to South Korea in a quarterfinal match at the Qatar Sports Club on Saturday.
Neither team dominated the proceedings early in the game as chances were few and far between in front of both goals.
In the second half, pressure was more intense on Team Melli as the South Koreans dominated territory and possession for most of the 45 minutes, but the Iranian defenders, marshaled by Hadi Aqili, protected the net effectively.
Iran stepped up a gear after the hour mark and could have found a goal through Gholamreza Rezaei in the 62nd minute when the striker seemed to have been pulled down by Lee Jung-soo.
A few minutes later, Mohammadreza Khalatbari could have opened the scoring but South Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong made a good save.
The South Korean side did not produce many clear-cut chances until the very end of the first extra time when Yoon made a magnificent solo run and sent a left-foot volley into the far corner of the net in the 105th minute.
In the second period of extra time, Iran tried desperately to equalize but South Korea crowded its defense and hung on for the win. The closest Iran came to tying the match was a shot from Masoud Shojaei with six minutes left that hit the top of the net.
South Korean midfielder Lee Yong-rae was named the man of the match.
It was the two teams' fifth successive meeting in the quarterfinal of the AFC Asian Cup. Iran beat South Korea 6-2 in the United Arab Emirates in 1996, but lost 2-1 in Lebanon in 2000. The Iranian outfit defeated South Korea 4-3 in a thriller in China in 2004, but it was eliminated by South Korea in a penalty shootout in 2007.
South Korea will play three-time champion Japan at the al-Gharafa Stadium in a semifinal match on Tuesday for a place in the January 29 final.
Earlier in the day, a 117th-minute strike from Harry Kewell at the al-Sadd Stadium put Australia into the final four and set up a semifinal showdown between the Socceroos and Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
Japan and Uzbekistan had already advanced to the semifinal round. On Friday, 10-man Japan defeated host Qatar 3-2 while Uzbekistan edged past Jordan 2-1 to book places in the final four.