Football: Saudi pitch invasion

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The Independent Online
Iraq. . .2

Iran. . .1

RIOT police had to clear 5,000 supporters from the pitch after they had stormed on to celebrate Saudi Arabia's last-minute equaliser against South Korea in the World Cup qualifying tournament in Doha, Qatar, yesterday.

South Korea looked to be heading for a victory that would have made them clear leaders of the Asian Group when Shin Hong Gi squeezed a shot under the keeper just after the hour. Ahmed Madani then headed Saudi Arabia's equaliser from a corner deep into injury time. The final whistle 10 seconds later led to Saudi supporters running on to the pitch and taunting their South Korean counterparts.

The 1-1 draw left the teams level at the top of the final qualifying group. They both have four points from three matches, ahead of Iraq, who beat Iran 2-1, and Japan, who have three points apiece.

With Iraq and Iran having having been at war for most of the 1980s, it was no surpise that two players were sent off and six booked. The Romanian referee, Ion Craciunescu, did little to dampen passions, brandishing cards at frequent intervals, but at the end the teams shook hands and embraced.

This was Iraq's first victory, at their third attempt. Tomorrow they face Saudi Arabia, their bitter enemies during the Gulf War.

Iraq scored in the 20th minute when Ahmad Radhi Amish shot past the keeper, Behzad Gholampour. Within a minute, Ali Daei headed his third goal of the round to equalise. Iran's defence, static for the first goal, repeated the fault in the 37th minute when Saad Numan sent Alaa Jebur through for the winner.

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