Tuesday evening's AFC World Cup qualifier between South Korea and Iran ended with visiting Iran manager Carlos Queiroz pumping his fists, aggressively shouting and offering what a South Korean official called an "obscene gesture" at the rival bench, while locals showered the field with plastic water bottles and drink cans.
Thanks to a bad-tempered eight-month build-up, however, this match was never destined to be a genteel affair.
South Korea lost a fiesty qualifier to Iran in Tehran last October, but manager Choi Kang-Hee complained about extensive visa problems and poor training facilities on their trip. Subsequently, he promised to "make life painful" for Iran by offering a similar level of hospitality in the return fixture.
Carlos Queiroz called for an apology, but instead Kang-Hee gave the kind of response that sounds like it should have been given from an underground lair while stroking a cat:
It looks like Iran is nervous. When feeling burdened or chased after, you talk a lot and engage in unnecessary provocation. I will defeat Iran no matter what. Coach Queiroz will be watching the Brazil World Cup on TV.
To makes things even spicier, South Korea captain and Bayer Leverkusen striker Son Heung-Min made a chilling promise about his meeting with Iran captain Javad Nekounam:
"I will make him shed tears of blood."
Queiroz and his side were understandably irked by the prospect of being forced to cry their own blood (or maybe someone else's blood?) and called the comments "shameful."
But rather than take the dignified option of rising above the fighting talk, the former Real Madrid and Portugal coach started making gestures of his own. Prior to Tuesday's match, he partook in some obvious trolling by pinning a sad-faced picture of Kang-Hee to his shirt and posing for pictures...
Furthermore, in response to Kang-Hee's desire to help Uzbekistan qualify for the World Cup over Iran, Queiroz also suggested in a pre-match press conference that he would present his rival with an Uzbekistan shirt before the game.
This context offers an explanation—but not a justification—for the Portuguese manager's aggressive behavior when Iran earned the 1-0 victory on Tuesday that was good enough for automatic World Cup qualification.
There might have been a lot more trouble if South Korea hadn't also edged through on goal difference, by a margin of a single goal.
Depsite the fact that they should have been relieved to progress to next summer's tournament—joining fellow AFC members Japan and Australia, who also qualified this week—several members of the South Korean bench couldn't resist punching the Iranian goalkeeper in the face when he celebrated a little too close to them...
Video H/T: 101GG