RAS AL KHAIMAH // Having been seconds from defeat, South Korea yesterday claimed their 12th AFC Under 19 Championship when the defeated Iraq 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out last night at the Emirates Club Stadium.
After dominating the early stages of the first half, Iraq deservedly took the lead through a neat low drive by Mohanad Abdulraheem after 35 minutes.
Iraq could have doubled their lead in the first minute of the second half, but the goalscorer hit his shot against the South Korean keeper's legs.
South Korea, who had been pinned back by Iraq's pressing game in the first half, improved after the break, but still could not find too many clear-cut opportunities. In fact, it was Iraq who could have scored a second, missing a flurry of chances.
A tense final 10 minutes bought no goals and Iraq, by now defending deeper than at any point, looked to have ridden out the storm. Then came heart-break for the five-time champions as Moon Chang-jin equalised in the second minute of stoppage time, and the match was set for 30 extra minutes.
Extra time ended with no addition to the score and the final went into a penalty shoot-out. Each team scored their first kick before Iraq missed their next two, leaving South Korea needing one more conversion to claim the title.
They duly got that with their next kick as the Iraqi players sank to their knees. The trophy was handed to the Koreans while Abdulraheem was named the player of the tournament.
Both teams, as well as losing semi-finalists Australia and Uzbekistan, qualified for the 2013 Under 20 World Cup in Turkey.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE