Park's late intervention keeps South Korea top

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The Independent Online

Park Ji-Sung scored with nine minutes remaining to earn South Korea a 1-1 draw with Iran in Tehran yesterday and ensure his team stay top of Asia Group Two in World Cup qualifying.

The Koreans, chasing a spot at their seventh-successive finals, went down on the hour mark to a Javad Nekounam goal before the Manchester United midfielder pulled the visitors back into the match with an 81st-minute header. The draw pushed Iran down to third, with North Korea moving second, a point behind South Korea, after their 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia.

Iran had the best of the early action, with Masoud Shojaei and Nekounam going close inside the first seven minutes. South Korea had their first chance after 35 minutes when Yeom Ki-hun's free kick was saved by Sayed Rahmati. He was denied again close to the break when his free kick was blocked by the goalkeeper.

Nekounam put Iran ahead in the 59th minute with a powerful free kick from the edge of the area but that advantage was almost lost moments later when Lee Keun-ho's header struck the bar.

The Koreans piled on the pressure and finally got their leveller when Park netted after Yeom's free kick was parried by Rahmati.

In Group One, Mahmood Abdulrahman scored five minutes into stoppage time to give Bahrain a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan yesterday.

Bahrain moved into third place in the group, four points behind Japan and six adrift of leaders Australia. The defeat left the Uzbeks bottom with a single point and all but ended their hopes of reaching the finals for the first time.