UAE edges North Korea, advances to face South
Ali Khaseif Housani made the decisive save and then Mohamed Saeed Alshehhi stepped up to secure the United Arab Emirates' 9-8 win on penalties in a quarterfinal against North Korea at the Asian Games.
The narrow victory Friday earned UAE a semifinal spot against South Korea, which beat Uzbekistan 3-1 in extra time.
In other quarterfinals, Iran edged Oman 1-0 to move into a semifinal against Japan, a 1-0 winner over Bryan Robson's Thailand squad.
The UAE-North Korea match was locked 0-0 after extra time, forcing a shootout which progressed to 8-8 before goalkeeper Housani saved Ri Chol Myong's attempt.
Alshehhi beat the Korean 'keeper with the next effort, sparking celebrations for the UAE team and disappointment for a North Korean lineup featuring seven survivors from the World Cup squad.
''I felt great pressure and was very nervous because everybody was watching me,'' Alshehhi said. ''Our target is to win the next match and to reach the final.''
North Korea had been considered a gold-medal favorite, its status enhanced after an opening 1-0 win over South Korea, and didn't concede a goal in regulation time during the tournament.
UAE coach Mahdi Al Redha said his squad had nullified North Korea's game plan by taking aerial control.
''I'm proud of this team. This is a young team ... DPR Korea players are older and many of them are from their senior national team. I congratulate all our players and staff.''
Iran scored in the 41st minute against Oman when midfielder Aliasaridehaghi glanced a curling free kick in off the near post.
Keigo Higashi's strike a minute before halftime was just enough for Japan to beat Thailand, which rued an open goal miss from Suttinun Phukhom.
The Japanese team has not conceded a goal in five matches.
''It's very unfortunate. We were the better team over the 90 minutes,'' former England captain Robson said of his Thailand team. ''We got into good positions, especially in the first half, but couldn't convert any of our chances.
''I'm glad we won two matches here, and I don't think it is a failure to lose in the quarterfinals.''