The battle to qualify from Group 2 in Asian Zone qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ remains finely balanced, after Korea DPR and Iran played out a goalless draw today.
The latter's goalkeeper Seyed Rahmati kept his side in the game, making a string of fine saves in the second half, notably from Hong Yong-Jo and Pak Nam-Chol, to earn a point at the Yanggakdo stadium.
The draw lifted Korea DPR on to 11 points, level with with section leaders Korea Republic and a point clear of Saudi Arabia. Iran have more of a job on their hands to reach South Africa 2010, as they are fourth with seven points and need to win their last two games to keep alive their hopes.
The Iranians could have scored early on when goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk pushed Andranik Teymourian's effort on to the right post, and they dominated possession for much of the first half without creating many clear-cut chances. Just before half-time, Mehdi Mahdavikia pulled the ball back from the byline to Vahid Hashemian, who shot narrowly wide.
The North Koreans were much improved after the break and soon had a decent chance when Hong Yong-Jo's low shot from the edge of the box forced Rahmati into a fine save. Soon after, Mun In-Guk headed wide from a good position and in the 64th minute, Rahmati was at full stretch to tip away Hong's low, 20-yard free-kick.
Substitute Mehrzad Madanchi came close with a ferocious shot from long range which Ri Myong-Guk did brilliantly to keep out, and then Jong Tae-Se's cross-shot nearly embarrassed Rahmati by sneaking in at the near post. It proved to be just a blip for the impressive Rahmati, who was in action again to keep out Pak Nam-Chol's shot from distance.