|Hwang Ui-jo claps as Korea's friendly football game against Iran is over. Korea and Iran were tied 1-1. / Yonhap|
By John Duerden
Another goal from red-hot striker Hwang Ui-jo gave South Korea a 1-1 tie with Iran in Seoul on Tuesday. It means that fans have to go back to January 2011 for the last victory over the West Asian team but at least this time there was a goal to celebrate.
This was a more enjoyable and open affair than recent clashes perhaps due to the absence of Carlos Querioz, a thorn in the Korean side from 2011 until earlier this year when he left to take the Colombia job. Under the Portuguese tactician, Korea lost four and tied once of the five meetings, never even scoring a goal.
This time was different. Iran under Queiroz was always organized, disciplined and tough to play against. This was the first game of new boss Marc Wilmots and perhaps it will take time for the former Belgian coach to get Iran playing the way he wants but this a more open opposition.
That the best player in the first-half was Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand says it all. Asia's number one was all over the place keeping out shots and headers from the likes of Son Heung-min and colleagues. Once again Son played all 90 minutes and was roared on by a crowd of over 60,000 every time he possessed the ball but even Asia's biggest star could not find a way past the man who is probably Asia's best goalkeeper.
As it was however this was a much more vibrant and dynamic performance than the lackluster 1-0 win over Australia four days earlier. The Taeguk Warriors managed to open up Iran, something that rarely happened when Queiroz was in charge.?
While Iran did not look quite as solid at the back, there was still a threat. Ahmad Nourallahi went close early in the second half with a shot that hit the woodwork but just before the hour Hwang broke the deadlock for the second time in four days.
The Gamba Osaka striker ran on to a long ball and took advantage of a defensive mix-up to smartly chip the ball over Beiranvand and into the net. It was the first goal ?that Korea had scored against Iran since January 2011 and Hwang's seventh since October.
More should have followed immediately with Son going close but then Iran equalized from a corner. Goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo came for the ball and uncharacteristically missed and it ended up in the back of the net courtesy of an own goal from Kim Yong-gwon.
Korea continued to push forward in search of the winner but it never came though Son came close with what would have been a spectacular goal. If the team is going to defeat Iran, it will have to wait until the next decade..
And that is it for a few weeks at least. The next meaningful action comes in September when Korea starts qualification for the 2022 World Cup.