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South Korea through after shootout

  • Story Highlights
  • South Korea beat Iran in a shootout to reach the Asia Cup semifinals
  • They win 4-2 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes
  • Saudi Arabia progress to meet Japan after beating Uzbekistan 2-1
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- South Korea beat Iran 4-2 on penalties after a grueling 0-0 draw in humid conditions to reach the Asian Cup semifinals on Sunday.

Korean keeper Lee Woon-jui saved two of the Iran kicks and took the man-of-the-match award.

Lee Woon-jai's shootout heroics earned the man-of-the match award.

Kim Jung-woo converted the winning spot-kick to send the inexperienced Koreans through to a last-four clash with Iraq on Wednesday, at the same Bukit Jalil Stadium.

Victory avenged Korea's 4-3 quarterfinal loss to Iran at the 2004 Asian Cup in China and leveled their Asian Cup quarterfinal meetings over four consecutive tournaments.

Korea coach Pim Verbeek was pleased that his young players stood up to a virtual Iranian World Cup line-up.

"I'm very proud of the team," Verbeek told reporters. "They worked very hard against a strong team and finished the game very strongly.

"They were mentally prepared for the penalty kicks and we can now look forward to the next game against Iraq."

Iran, who practised penalties specially in training, used substitute goalkeeper Vahid Taliblou for the shootout, replacing Hassan Roudbarian in the 119th-minute.

But Verbeek's players had the cooler heads, sending their more than 4,000 vocal Korean supporters into ecstasy.

Iran coach Amir Ghalenoei felt his team dominated the match against the 2002 World Cup semifinalists.

"That's football," he said. "The players did exactly what I asked them to but only the final touch let them down.

"I am happy with their performance and I am the one who should take full responsibility for this defeat."

Showing good individual skills and support play, the Koreans had a dominant spell midway through the first half, with Oh Beom-seok stumbling after a mazy run and Lee Chun-soo's deflected shot well saved by Roudbarian.

Iran's best chance of the half came in the 42nd minute when Ali Karimi found himself one-on-one with Korean goalkeeper Lee, who saved at his feet.

Iran pressed forward after half-time but a rare defensive mistake in the 60th minute allowed Yeom Ki-hun a good chance to shoot from outside the box.

With neither side able to break the deadlock, the match went to extra time. Iran had the better chances but tired legs meant the match ended at snail's pace.

Lee, an experienced shootout campaigner for Korea, emerged as the hero with his two saves.

Iran captain Mehdi Mahdavikia and Rassoul Khatibi missed their spot-kicks and only Kim Do-heon failed for the Koreans.

Saudi Arabia survived an Uzbekistan onslaught in Jakarta to win their quarterfinal 2-1 on Sunday, setting up a last-four clash with fellow three-time champions Japan.

Yasser Al Qahtani gave the Saudis a great start by putting them ahead in the third minute. After soaking up heavy pressure, the Saudis went 2-0 up in the 75th minute when Ahmed Al Mousa strode into the box and confidently clipped the ball home.

Uzbekistan grabbed a lifeline when substitute Pavel Solomin pulled one back with eight minutes left, but the Saudis held on to secure their semifinal spot. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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