Doha // Iraq secured a place in the Asian Cup quarter-finals as Kerrar Jasim's first-half goal edged out North Korea at Al Rayyan Stadium.
In a largely uninspiring Group D clash, Jasim's opportunist strike after 22 minutes proved the difference as the North Koreans exited the tournament without finding the back of the net. Iraq needed just a point to confirm their passage into the last eight and Mustafa Kareem went close to breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute when he met Mahdi Kareem's corner with a powerful downward header but was unfortunate to see the ball bounce up and hit the underside of the bar with goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk beaten.
It proved only temporary respite for the North Koreans, however, as Iraq took the lead five minutes later. Ri could only parry Mustafa Kareem's swerving effort from 25 yards and Jasim was quickest to react and slid the loose ball home.
Jong Tae-se saw a free-kick from distance held by goalkeeper Mohammed Kassid before Kareem could have added to Iraq's advantage eight minutes before the break but the forward volleyed Jasim's cross well wide from six yards.
Ryang Yong-gi tested Kassid as the second half got under way while Jasim's shot whistled just over the bar at the other end.
Clear chances were at a premium, however, and although North Korea showed more attacking intent, they were unable to seriously threaten as the goals they needed to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout stage eluded them.
Jong forced Kassid into a smart save and Hong saw a goalbound shot deflected wide as Iraq maintained their advantage to reach the last eight and set up a clash with Australia.
* Associated Press