North Korea survive Saudi siege to reach World Cup finals

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The Independent Football

North Korea qualified for their first World Cup finals since 1966 after holding Saudi Arabia to a 0-0 draw yesterday. The visitors finished with 10 men and defending against a wave of attacks but held firm to join South Korea, Australia and Japan as Asia's four automatic qualifiers for South Africa 2010.

North Korea finished runners-up to South Korea in Group Two while Australia and Japan went through from Group One. Third-placed Saudi Arabia, aiming for their fifth successive appearance in the finals, advanced to the Asian play-offs with Bahrain, third in Group One. The two teams meet over two legs in September with the winners progressing to a home and away play-off against the Oceania winners New Zealand in October and November for a place in South Africa.

With Saudi Arabia needing to win to gain an automatic place, the hosts made all the early running at the King Fahd International Stadium. They kept North Korea under pressure, but were unable to capitalise on their chances, even when the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Kim Yong-jun was sent off in stoppage time.

North Korea's only appearance at the World Cup was in 1966 in England, where they reached the quarter-finals.

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