Coach : Amir GHALENOEI
Iran striker Vahid Hashemian scored with virtually the last kick of the game to earn his side a 1-1 draw against Korea Republic in a dramatic AFC Asian Cup 2007 qualifier on Saturday.
SEOUL - Iran striker Vahid Hashemian scored with virtually the last kick of the game to earn his side a 1-1 draw against Korea Republic in a dramatic AFC Asian Cup 2007 qualifier on Saturday.
Reading striker Seol Ki-hyeon had put the hosts ahead just before the break and the goal looked set to give the two-time continental champions a deserved win.
Instead Hashemian took advantage of a defensive mix-up to chip the ball into the net to the horror of the vast majority of a near sell-out crowd at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Both coaches fielded strong line-ups but it was Pim Verbeek, making his first home appearance as Korea Republic head coach, who saw his team start at a high tempo against the visitors who were content to defend in numbers and look for counter-attacking opportunities.
Despite the hosts' early free-kicks and corners, it was not until the 17th minute that they seriously threatened. Kim Do-heon robbed Javad Nekounam to feed Park Ji-sung only for the Manchester United star's touch to fail him as he entered the penalty area.
Eight minutes later the visitors almost took the lead. Ali Karimi picked up a loose ball 25 metres out and glided past Kim Sang-sik and into the left side of the area. Despite the relatively tight angle, the 2004 AFC Player of the Year will be disappointed at screwing his shot wide of Kim Young-kwang's left goalpost.
The deadlock was finally broken on the stroke of half-time when Kim Do-heon fired a right-sided free-kick into the box and Seol Ki-hyeon rose above the Iranian defence to head the ball in the bottom right corner of Ebrahim Mirzapour's net.
Amir Ghalenoei's team showed more attacking ambition in the second half but rarely troubled Kim, selected ahead of World Cup captain Lee Woon-jae, as the Korea Republic keeper had few saves to make.
Kim's opposite number Mirzapour, however, was having a busier evening than his Korean counterpart.
In the 70th minute he had to scramble to reach a spectacular overhead kick from the edge of the box from Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Lee Ho that was just inches wide of the post before the Iranian's hands were stung seven minutes later as he beat out a fierce shot from Cho Jae-jin.
With only a one-goal cushion the tension began to mount for the Koreans and in the 84th minute Karimi just failed to connect with an inviting low cross from Farhad Majidi from the edge of the six-yard box.
And as full-time approached a lack of communication between Kim Sang-sik and Kim Young-kwang led to Hashemian robbing the defender on the edge of the area and deftly lobbing the ball over the stranded keeper and into the back of the net to earn Iran a share of the spoils.
Korea Republic now have seven points from the first three games in Group B but still head the group with Iran in second, two points behind.
Both teams are in action next Wednesday when Korea Republic host group whipping boys Chinese Taipei in Suwon while take on Syria in Damascus looking to atone for their 1-1 draw with Arabs in Tehran in the last round of Asian Cup qualifiers.