GUANGZHOU // Japan will meet the United Arab Emirates in the Asian Games football final after the unheralded Gulf side knocked out South Korea with the last kick of extra-time in their semi-final.
South Korea, the gold medallists in 1986, had wasted the best opportunities of the game, and they were made to pay when centre-forward Ahmed Al Abry slotted the ball past substitute goalkeeper Lee Bum-Young.
Penalty specialist Lee had replaced starter Kim Seung-Gyu just moments earlier with Korea expecting the game to be decided by a shootout.
But it is the UAE, who have never appeared in an Asiad final, who go on to Thursday's gold medal decider against Japan who came from a goal down to beat four-time champions Iran 2-1.
South Korea had the best of the early chances and UAE keeper Ali Housani needlessly put his side under pressure when he opted to punch rather than catch a teasing cross.
But Hong Jeong-Ho was off target with his long-range response.
Amer Al Hamadi then shot wide in 19th minute as the UAE looked to use their pace up front.
Hong Jeong-Ho should have broken the deadlock in the 37th minute, but despite being unmarked, he tamely headed straight into the arms of a grateful Al Hamadi.
Monaco's Park Chu-Young then showed off his creativity with a smart pass into the path of the sprinting Yun Suk-Young who blasted the ball over the bar to leave the semi-final scoreless at the interval.
Housani again flapped at a cross in the 70th minute but he escaped when substitute Seo Jung-Jin missed the target.
At the other end, Omar Al Amoudi sent a fierce, left-footed drive just over the top of Kim Seung-Gyu's goal as the tie drifted into extra-time.
Japan inched closer to their dream of winning a first Asian Games football gold medal by coming from behind to beat Iran.
Striker Arash Afshin opened the scoring for Iran on six minutes before Kota Mizunuma drew Japan level seven minutes before half-time with the classy Kensuke Nagai grabbing the winner on 60 minutes.
"After Iran scored we had some difficult moments, but we always knew we had time to come back," said Japan captain Kuzuya Yamamura.
Fard Ansari put the ball into the net 16 minutes from time only to be judged offside.
The Iranians were throwing everything they had at the Japanese goal and Hamidreza Akiasgaridehaghi hit the post and they had a penalty appeal turned down, but Japan held on for a narrow victory.
Iran were furious with the offside decision.
"There was no offside and the referee made a mistake," said Ansari. "If the score had become 2-2, we would have won the match."