Iran reach the 2014 World Cup with 1-0 win over South Korea
South Korea also qualify for Brazil as runners-up in Group A but coach Choi steps down
Australia qualifies for a third consecutive World Cup
Jordan will play Uzbekistan in a playoff
Iran, South Korea and Australia all booked a place in next year’s FIFA World Cup following a dramatic final round of group matches in the Asian qualifying competition.
A second-half goal from Reza Ghoochannejhad was enough for Iran to beat South Korea 1-0 in Ulsan, meaning Carlos Queiroz’s team finished top of Group A.
Victory saw Iran reach football’s premier competition for the fourth time in its history, having previously played in the first round of the 1978, 1998 and 2006 tournaments.
CNN correspondent Shirzad Bozorgmehr said Iranians took to the streets across their country to celebrate.
He said that cars in the capital Tehran were draped in the Iranian flag and blowing their horns as their passengers shouted “Iran, Iran.”
“This is the second national celebration in Iran in the last five days,” said Bozorgmehr.
“Following the landslide victory of Dr. Hassan Rohani last Friday in the presidential elections, huge crowds poured into the streets of Tehran and other cities to publicly celebrate Dr Rohani’s election victory.”
In his first press conference on Monday, Rohani told reporters he planned to overhaul sports in a country where soccer is the most popular game.
Despite defeat, South Korea still clinched the second automatic qualification spot as Uzbekistan fell agonizingly short against Qatar, winning 5-1 but finishing third in Group A on goal difference alone.
After the match, South Korea coach Choi Kang-Hee revealed that he would be stepping down from his post - a surprise move at first glance, although Choi did say he would only take charge for the qualifiers when appointed in December 2011.
Choi had been involved in an acrimonious war of words with Iran coach Carlos Quieroz ahead of the game and home fans hurled plastic water bottles and other items onto the pitch after taking offense at a gesture directed towards Choi by the Portuguese after the match.
South Korea’s loss meant Uzbekistan would qualify for the finals for the first time if it beat Qatar by six goals.
But Uzbekistan fell behind in Tashkent when Abdulqadir Ilyas gave the 2022 World Cup hosts a shock first-half lead.
The home side bounced back in the second half, firing in five goals without reply, but the 5-1 final score was not enough to see Uzbekistan leapfrog South Korea.
Uzbekistan will now play the third-place team in Group B - Jordan - over two legs.
In Wednesday’s final Asian qualifier, the Jordanians took third place in the group when beating Oman 1-0 in Amman - with Ahmad Ibrahim scoring a vital goal just before the hour.
The result enabled the hosts to leapfrog their opponents in the group, with Jordan - seeking a maiden World Cup qualification - having trailed the Omanis by two points ahead of kickoff.
The winner of the Uzbekistan-Jordan playoff will advance to a tie with the fifth-place team from the South American competition, with the winner qualifying for next year’s finals in Brazil.
A late header from substitute Joshua Kennedy gave Australia a 1-0 win over Iraq and sent the Socceroos to Brazil.
Australia knew a win would be enough to qualify for a third consecutive World Cup, but anything less than three points would give Oman the chance to clinch an automatic qualification spot.
With the score 0-0 at a rain-soaked ANZ Stadium, coach Holger Osiek drew the ire of the crowd by replacing star player Tim Cahill with Kennedy after 78 minutes.
But Kennedy justified Osiek’s bold decision by rising to meet Marc Bresciano’s right-wing cross, beating Iraq goalkeeper Noor Sabri with a well-placed finish.
Australia finished the Asian qualifying campaign second in Group B behind Japan.