South Korea moved a step closer to burying their 55-year Asian Cup hoodoo when they grabbed a goal in each half to beat Iraq 2-0 and set up a final against Australia or United Arab Emirates.

Lee Jeong-hyeop gave the Taegeuk Warriors the lead with a 20th-minute header and defender Kim Young-gwon lashed the second into the net five minutes after the break as the South Koreans reached the final for the first time since 1988.

Iraq, perhaps emotionally and physically drained by their dramatic quarter-final victory over Iran last week, played with plenty of passion but were unable to become the first side to breach the Korean defence in five matches in Australia.

Their hopes of another fairytale run to the title to match their 2007 triumph were washed away in the Sydney rain and it is twice champions South Korea who will return to Stadium Australia next Saturday in search of a first Asian Cup crown since 1960.