TEHRAN, Sept. 2 (Mehr News Agency) - Vahid Hashemian of Bundesliga side Hanover 96 scored a stoppage-time equalizer to give Iran a 1-1 draw with South Korea at the AFC Asian Cup 2007 qualifier at the World Cup Stadium in the capital Seoul Saturday.
Seol Ki-hyeon's drilling header on 45 minutes sent the sellout crowd wild with applause, but a deafening silence reigned as striker Hashemian racing to a Hamburg right winger Mehdi Mahdavikia cross capitalized on Korean defender Kim Sang-sik's blunder and chipped the ball into the net.
Under new managers Amir Qal'e-Noii and Pim Verbeek, Iran and Korea pit strong lineups as Hashemian, Mahdavikia, Bayern Munich's Ali Karimi, Livorno's new signing Rahman Rezaii, and Bolton Wanderers' new import Andranik Teimurian arrayed against Manchester United's Park Ji-sung, Tottenham's Lee Young-pyo, and Reading's Seol.
But it was the host that possessed the ball and field from the kickoff as the visiting Iran looked for counterattacks.
Iran almost took the lead after 26 minutes when the 2004 Asian Player of the Year Karimi picked up a loose ball and cleared Kim Sang-sik, but his left drive made no trouble for keeper Kim Young-kwang.
Karimi missed his team's best chance six minutes from time, failing to touch the ball in the 5.5-yard box with the goal yawning.
But the joy for Hashemian's equalizer was so infectious that the Iranians forgot Karimi's slip-up.
Korea extended its leadership in Group B with seven points out of three games while Iran lies in second spot on five, third-placed Syria has four, and Taiwan sticks to rock bottom with no point.
Syria will entertain Iran in Damascus and Korea is to host Taiwan in Suwon Wednesday.
The top two teams will qualify for the Asian Cup finals in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
... Payvand News - 9/2/06 ... --