* Iran win 1-0 in Ulsan to qualify for Brazil finals
* Koreans also through on goal difference over Uzbekistan (Adds quotes, details)
June 18 (Reuters) - Iran qualified for the World Cup finals on Tuesday after another resolute defensive display helped them snatch a 1-0 away win over South Korea, who also booked a place in Brazil.
Forward Reza Ghoochannejhad was Iran’s hero, latching on to an error by defender Kim Young-gwon to score the winner in the 60th minute with the visitors’ only real chance of a one-sided match in Ulsan.
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz punched the air in delight at the final whistle after their third Group A qualifying win in June sealed top spot and a fourth finals appearance after missing out four years ago.
“We played with a great team spirit and won. We were technically superior and decisive in the face of crisis,” Queiroz told reporters.
“I knew it was going to be a difficult game so I took a practical approach. We took advantage of the weakness of our opponent and scored a goal.”
The under-pressure Portuguese had traded verbal volleys before Tuesday’s Group A clash with Korean counterpart Choi Kang-Hee, who had vowed to beat Iran and force them to watch the World Cup on television after being “badly treated” in the reverse fixture in Tehran last year.
Choi, who previously said he would step down after the qualifying campaign, was more subdued after the loss.
“We advanced into the World Cup but it was not a clean finish. It is all my fault,” he said in a television interview after the game.
Korea finished as group runners-up, ahead on goal difference of Uzbekistan, who beat Qatar 5-1 on Tuesday.
Choi’s side had only needed a draw to make it a ninth finals appearance but they started with an attacking lineup at the Ulsan Football Stadium in search of a win.
But despite having the attacking trio of Son Heung-min, Lee Dong-gook and Ji Dong-won on the field, the Koreans were guilty of using too many long balls for tall striker Kim Shin-wook rather than mixing up their play.
Iran started the day two points ahead of third-placed Uzbekistan but knew that a draw against Korea and a four-goal win for the Central Asians over Qatar would cost them automatic qualification.
The visitors nevertheless chose to sit back and allow Korea plenty of possession, but the predictable patterns of play by the home side failed to produce clear-cut chances.
The Koreans did have a strong appeal for a penalty five minutes before halftime when midfielder Lee Myung-joo raced clear only to be brought down by Iran fullback Khosro Heydari and goalkeeper Rahman Ahmadi, but the referee awarded a goal kick.
Iran started the second half brighter and grabbed a shock lead on the hour when Korea defender Kim Young-gwon missed his kick as he attempted a back-pass to his keeper, and Ghoochannejhad raced through to curl home a left-foot shot.
Choi introduced AFC player of the year Lee Keun-ho as the hosts searched for an equaliser against an Iran team that had conceded just two goals in their previous seven qualifiers.
Kim Young-gwon came close to making up for his error when he fired a sharp shot in the 76th minute that was well saved by Ahmadi, while his glancing header two minutes from time sailed just wide.
Substitute Lee had half the stadium on their feet thinking he had scored a 94th-minute leveller but his header edged past the far post with Ahmadi motionless as Iran hung on for the win.
While the Iranians celebrated, the Korean players waited for news of Uzbekistan, who cruised past Qatar but ultimately fell two goals short of overhauling Korea on goal difference.
But despite their qualification, their was little cheer from Choi.
“I have nothing to say. The players did their best but couldn’t play in a way they wanted and prepared for,” the coach said.
“I hope Korea learns from the World Cup qualifiers and improves in the future.”
Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore and Narae Kim in Seoul, editing by Stephen Wood