After watching this game the stats are surprising, there are very vague memories of Jung Sung-Ryong making a note worthy save from an Iranian shot, oh wait that’s cause Iran only had two shots on target but eleven off target. No surprises that the Koreans overcame them to reach the semis.

The runs of Cha Du-Ri from right back were prominent in this game, on the 25th minute he went on a charge beating two players, he then squared the ball across the box but no one had kept up with him and the cross was wasted, a positive sign though.

Not sure if this counts as one of Iran’s shots on target, it certainly troubled Jung. Mohammad Reza Khalatbari swung in a dangerous free kick, Ji Dong Won tried to clear with his head but only managed to flick it on Jung had to react quickly to tip it round the post, a great save from the goalie.

Just before the break Ji tried his luck from distance, he started on the left and with no pressure from the defence he came inside and curled his shot to the back post, with not enough power or accuracy to test Mahdi Rahmati it was always going wide.

After the interval it was Cha who again terrorised the Iranian defence, after a lovely move between three Koreans, Cha was away down the flank, his cross found #10 but the header was poor and Rahmati made the easy save. The game would go to extra time.

If Jung was still on the field at this point no one would ever know. Korea were knocking on the Iranian door, and it was Yoon Bit-Garam that found the key. Again the defence failed to pressure the ball, Yoon dropped the shoulder came inside and from the edge of the box he curled a wonderful shot past Rahmati and into the corner.

Iran did have a shot on goal with ten minutes to go, not worth mentioning though, the angle was too tight and it smacked of desperation. A poor performance from the much fancied Iranians, The Koreans were far too strong and deserved their victory.

Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi felt the weight of expectation perhaps proved too much for his players.

“This championship was very important to our players and our team,” said the 46-year-old. “When we reached the second phase we started believing we could be champion and make the people of Iran happy.

“When these two sides meet anything can happen. We tried very hard to get the players to relax and play football, but the Koreans did very well in the midfield and closing down space.

“At half time we talked about it and I think in the second half we improved but not as we would have liked. Again it comes to the importance of winning and I think it got to the players.

“They are tired of not coming home with the trophy for 35 years and they wanted to do this for the people.”

Korea Republic boss Cho Kwang-rae hailed the resilience of his players after the Taeguk Warriors battled to a 1-0 extra time victory.

“The Iranian team’s defensive organisation was very strong, especially in the middle where they were very compact and highly organised,” he said.

“I believe not many teams can score goals against them and if you see figures of their previous matches this is proven.

“To win this game with a clean sheet is the greatest thing a coach can get. In general the defence was successful tonight and in that respect I was satisfied.

“Regarding the tiredness of the players, it can happen in these tournaments but the most important thing is that the players held on until the end of the game and that was the key factor for me.

“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.”

Japan will take on the Korea Republic on Tuesday for a place in the final.


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January 24th, 2011

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