Record crowd enjoys S. Korea’s win over Iran in World Cup qualifier

SEOUL-- A record-setting sellout crowd in Seoul enjoyed South Korea's 2-0 victory over Iran in their World Cup qualifying match on Thursday.

South Korea hosted Iran at Seoul World Cup Stadium before 64,375 fans, according to the Korea Football Association (KFA).

It was the largest crowd in a sporting event in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous mark was set in a World Cup qualifying match: in November last year, South Korea beat the United Arab Emirates before 30,152 fans at Goyang Stadium in Goyang, just northwest of Seoul. The match took place during a brief window when the government eased COVID-19 restrictions in an ultimately botched attempt to return to normalcy.

This was the 10th sellout in the history of Seoul World Cup Stadium, which opened in 2001 ahead of the FIFA World Cup that South Korea co-hosted with Japan the following year, and first since March 26, 2019, against Colombia.

The KFA's ticketing website crashed under heavy traffic when ticketing opened on March 16. The KFA said some 62,000 tickets had been sold as of 2 p.m. Thursday, and the remaining 1,000 or so tickets were snatched up at the stadium's box office later in the day.

With vocal cheering still prohibited and mask mandate in place, the KFA played some canned crowed chants throughout the match. At the 20th minute mark, the crowd performed a card stunt, holding up cards that read, "We missed you."

Captain Son Heung-min came through with the match's first goal in the first-half injury time, and center back Kim Young-gwon locked down the victory with his 63rd-minute goal.

After the victory, players took a lap around the field to greet their fans and thanked them for their support.

Son said afterward that since the end of his last Premier League match for Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, playing in front of South Korean fans in Seoul had been "the only thing on my mind."

"I really missed playing before fans at home and celebrating a win with them," Son said. "It was great to see them all smile."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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