Iran again stood above Jordan in the preliminary Group D of the 13th Asian Cup on goal difference as it beat North Korea 3-1 in Pyongyang Monday, IRNA reported.
The two sides played an uneventful first half in an almost empty stadium.
Korean striker Ri K.D. sent a ball on the roof of Iran's net in a man-to-man challenge with keeper Ebrahim Mirzapour in the 15th minute.
Skipper Ali Daei headed home an Iman Mob'ali corner 16 minutes later but the goal was ruled out by the Chinese ref due to a foul by Sepahan midfielder Moharram Navidkia on the Korea's goalie Ri M.D. in the goalmouth.
The advancing midfielder of visitor Javad Nekounam curled a Navidkia low cross in the 33rd minute, forcing a superb dive from Ri, who palmed the ball into corner.
Two minutes after the interval, the veteran Daei's inswinging free-kick was saved by the Korean goalkeeper.
But Ri surrendered in the 49th minute as Iranian playmaker Ali Karimi unleashed a powerful left-foot drive, kissing the top right of Korea's net.
The host heaped great pressure on Iran's woodwork to grab the equalizer.
Defender Mohammad Nosrati deserved a pat on the back in the 53rd minute as he rebounded a ball past Mirzapour in the goalmouth. Iran paid dear for a goalkeeping blunder in the 64th minute when a cross by Myong S.C. slid the hands of diving Mirzapour, who presented the equalizer to the almond-eyed players.
But Karimi proved toast of Iran by putting the visitor ahead again in the 79th minute. The international player fired a low left-foot shot between the legs of keeper Ri to celebrate his own and side's double.
Korea came close to the second goal but Mirzapour denied Kim, sending back the kick by his stretching leg.
Navidkia poured cold water on Korea's camp four minutes before the final whistle, scoring the third for Iran by an unstoppable volley from a tight angle in the left side of the penalty box. Iran will entertain North Korea in the 100,000-seater Azadi Stadium, 10 km west of Tehran, on November 5.
Group D standings:
P W D L F A Pts Iran 3 2 0 1 9 5 6 Jordan 3 2 0 1 5 6 6 Lebanon 2 1 0 1 1 1 3 North Korea 2 0 0 2 1 4 0
... Payvand News - 10/27/03 ... --