Tehran (IP) – In the absence of some influential stars and in a match that did not perform well, Iran's national football team lost to South Korea by two goals to hand over the top of 2022 World Cup qualifiers in the first group of Asia to this opponent.

Iran PressAsia: Captain Son Heung-min scored in the dying moments of the first half, and defender Kim Young-Gwon added a second-half insurance marker as South Korea defeated Iran 2-0 in their final World Cup qualifying match at home on Thursday.

Before a sellout crowd of some 64,000 at Seoul World Cup Stadium, South Korea earned their first victory over Iran since January 2011. It overtook their Middle Eastern rival for the top spot in Group A of the final Asian World Cup qualifying round.

Both South Korea, now leading the way at 23 points, and Iran, one point back, had long booked their tickets to this year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and are now battling for the top spot in the group with one match left each.

Next Tuesday, South Korea will close out the qualifying round against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai. Iran, now trailing South Korea by a point, will take on Lebanon the same day.

The top two teams from each of the two groups in this phase earn automatic berths in the World Cup, while the two third-place teams will meet in a playoff later. South Korea secured one of the two tickets in Group A by beating Syria 2-0 on Feb. 1.


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