Iran beats Uzbekistan 1-0 in World Cup qualifying

Mohammad Reza Khalatbari scored in stoppage time on Sunday to

give Iran a 1-0 win at Uzbekistan in the final round of Asian

qualifying for the 2014 World Cup after the hosts appeared to have

a legitimate goal ruled out.

Substitute Karim Ansarifard broke down the right before passing

to Khalatbari, who found the net in the fourth minute of added


Iran was lucky to win the Group A match, given Uzbekistan had

the better chances for most of the match and looked to have scored

in the 74th minute when the ball appeared to cross the line.

Uzbekistan captain Odil Ahmedov knocked the ball into the net

but Iran defender Jalal Hosseini, who was inside the goal mouth,

managed to clear it away. TV replays showed the ball had clearly

crossed the line but none of the three referees awarded a goal and

play continued.

Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abromov said a goal should have been

awarded but is focused on the next match against Lebanon with his

team looking to make its first appearance at the World Cup.

”We scored a goal in the second half but the referees didn’t

see it. Iran had two chances and won it,” Abramov said. ”I don’t

know what did happen with us in the last minutes, sometimes we

concede goals at the end of the match. We lost the game but it is

not tragedy. We have seven matches in the group and hope will not

die until the last moment.”

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz looks to have plenty of work to do to

ensure Iran advances, along with fellow favorite South Korea. His

team appeared sluggish for most of the match and struggled to keep

up with Uzbekistan’s attacking style.

Without a strong goalkeeping performance from Mahdi Rahmati, the

Iranians could easily have lost. Iran is attempting to reach the

World Cup for the fourth, and first since 2006.

”Uzbekistan had several chances. After this we changed our

style and we battled more against them and reached our target,”

Queiroz said. ”I knew Uzbekistan would go forward in the last

minutes. That’s why we changed our tactics and tried to score from

counterattacks. We did it and our changes brought us three


The top two teams from each group will advance to the World Cup

finals. The two third-place sides will play off for a spot.