Doha: North Korea and United Arab Emirates produced the first 0-0 draw of the Asian Cup on Tuesday after the Koreans missed a first-half penalty in an evenly-matched Group D match at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium.
The Koreans squandered the chance to take an early lead after eight minutes when Hong Yong-jo failed from the penalty spot after UAE defender Hamdam Ismaeel sent Korean striker Jong Tae-se sprawling in the box after nudging him in the back.
Malaysian referee Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh awarded him a yellow and not a red card, then the UAE had another let-off when Hong cracked his penalty against the bar.
An entertaining first half produced 14 goal attempts from both sides, although most of them were well off target.
The UAE’s best clearcut chance before the break came after 32 minutes when midfielder Amer Rahman set up Ismail Matar with a perfect through ball but Rahman’s acrobatic volley flew wide of goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk’s right-hand post.
The second half was more of a war of attrition with both defences dominating and although the play continued to switch from end to end, there were few other real scoring chances to entertain the 3,600 fans, the lowest crowd of the tournament so far.
The best save of the match came in the last minute when goalkeeper Ri dived smartly to stop what would have been a late winner for the UAE, hoping to improve on their poor showing in 2007 when they failed to get past the group stage.
North Korea were one of Asia’s four representatives at last year’s World Cup but after a spirited display in losing narrowly 2-1 to five-times champions Brazil, they were humbled 7-0 by Portugal and 3-0 by Ivory Coast.