Iraq beat North Korea to go through

Defending champions to face Australia in quarter-finals after 1-0 win as Iran prepare for South Korea by beating UAE.

    North Korea's Jong Tae-se sees his shot hit the side netting as Iraq get the points they needed to join Iran [Reuters]

    Defending champions Iraq set up an Asian Cup quarter-final with Australia as they beat North Korea 1-0 to finish second behind Iran in Group D.

    The last day of the group stages in Doha also saw three-times winners Iran, who had already won the group and will play South Korea in the last eight, make nine changes to their team but still beat United Arab Emirates 3-0 at Qatar Sports Club.

    Iran ended Group D with nine points from three matches with Iraq second on six and North Korea and UAE on one.

    "I always look forward to South Korea-Iran. Without that matchup it's not an Asian Cup," Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi said.

    A first-half goal from Iraq midfielder Kerrar Jasim after a mistake by Korean keeper Ri Myong-guk was enough for the holders to advance to the last eight at Al Rayyan stadium.

    Iraq, needing a point to qualify for the last eight, began the brighter side and hit the woodwork in the 17th minute when Mustafa Kareem flicked Samal Saeed's header against the bar.


    The holders only had to wait five minutes to open the scoring when Korean goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk fell backwards after parrying a 35-yard drive from Mustafa Kareem, allowing Kerrar Jasim to convert into an unguarded net.

    The goal should have sparked the Koreans, who needed to win to advance, but they continued with their safety-first mentality and were restricted to shots from distance.

    Led by an excitable choreographer, the Korean fans in shirts and ties chanted, waved flags and pumped their fists in unison throughout the drab contest.

    German-based striker Jong Tae-se had the Koreans' best chance with 13 minutes left but his low shot on the turn was straight at the goalkeeper.

    At Qatar Sports Club, Iran made nine changes from their win over North Korea but maintained their 100 per cent Group D record.

    Iran broke the deadlock in the 70th minute when Gholamreza Rezaei chased down the right wing and crossed for Mohammad Gholami to head against the bar with goalkeeper Nasser beaten.

    He responded first to the rebound and headed that against the bar before Arash Afshin planted the second rebound into the empty net for his first international goal.

    Afshin's joy was short-lived, however, as he was red-carded five minutes later for fouling the goalkeeper.

    UAE defender Khalid Sebil was sent off and Mohammad Nori added a second when he swept a shot into the corner of the net.

    The UAE's Walid Abbas scored his second own goal in two matches in stoppage time.

    "I'm happy to go to second stage with a perfect record and to be the only team with nine points," Ghotbi said.

    "Having said that, all teams start fresh and it's like a new tournament."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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