A late Reza Ghoochannejhad goal gave Iran a last-gasp win over technically-dominant UAE in the deciding match of Group C on Monday night at the controversial Brisbane Stadium.
Khamis Esmaeel gave the first warning to Iran goalkeeper Ali Reza Haghighi, sending a long range shot wide in the first five minutes to which Haghighi waved a finger in dismissal of the attempt.
Japanese referee Ryuji Sato made two controversial decisions on the night: the first was a yellow card against UAE defender Walid Abbas, who will be suspended for the quarterfinal.
The second came at the end of the match, when Reza Ghoochannejhad’s last-gasp header in stoppage time was allowed despite Emirati claims of an obvious offside call.
But despite the poor pitch and any questionable officiating decisions, the UAE would seemingly have no one to blame but themselves for the performance, after dominating possession in the first half but failing to register a single shot on goal in the entire game.
The result sees Carlos Queiroz’s men finish on top of Group C, meaning that they will play the second-place team of Group D which wraps up on Tuesday. Second-place UAE will play the Group D winner, who could be defending champions Japan.