Iran claim controversial win in qualifier
Substitute Mohammad Khalatbari scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to snatch a controversial and fortunate 1-0 away win for Iran over suspension-struck Uzbekistan in their World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Having created nothing during the 90 minutes, the visitors produced a devastating swift break with their last attack which Khalatbari calmly concluded by slotting a left-foot shot home after being sent clear by Karim Ansari.
The opening Group A result was harsh on the home side, who were left enraged when they were not awarded a goal in the 75th minute by the Japanese referee despite Odil Akhmedov's effort appearing to cross the line.
After a scramble in the penalty area, marauding defender Akhmedov struck a shot from inside the six-yard box which Iran defender Seyed Hosseini, standing behind the goalline, blocked and then cleared.
Referee Yuichi Nishimura and his assistants waved away the loud claims from the home side, who only had themselves to blame for not taking the lead earlier after wasting several chances.
Uzbeki striker Alexander Geynrikh was the worst offender, twice failing to convert when clean through in the first half, although Iran goalkeeper Seyed Rahmati did well to block.
Rahmati's best save, however, came in the 23rd minute when he strongly blocked Victor Karpenko's powerful left-foot drive from eight metres out.
Uzbekistan were missing five players, including Asian player-of-the-year Server Djeparov, through suspension after Fifa found them guilty of deliberately gaining yellow cards in the previous stage to avoid carrying over bans into the fourth round.
Uzbekistan next take on Lebanon on Friday.
Iran, along with South Korea, are seeded to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil from the five-team group also containing 2022 hosts Qatar.