Iran snatched a 1-0 win in the dying seconds against Uzbekistan Sunday in a dramatic World Cup qualifier as the hosts were left to rue an apparent goal which went unseen by the match officials.
In the last action of the game, substitute Mohammad Khalatbari raced onto Karim Ansari’s through ball in the 94th minute and slotted it home to claim a win Iran barely deserved.
It was the cruellest of finishes for Uzbekistan, who 20 minutes earlier had the ball over the line in an incident missed by the referee — in the latest case underlining the case for the quick introduction of goal-line technology.
Alexander Geynrikh’s free-kick caused chaos in the box and Odil Ahmedov’s shot from the goalmouth melee was blocked behind the line by Iranian defender Seyed Hosseini, who also appeared to use his hand, TV replays showed.
But neither Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura nor his assistants noticed. The latest in a long line of similar incidents comes after world body FIFA tested goal-line technology at England’s friendly against Belgium on Saturday.
In front of a lively crowd at Tashkent’s two-sided Jar Stadium, Uzbekistan had dominated the first half and should have taken the lead when Victor Karpenko’s snap shot was acrobatically denied by Iranian ‘keeper Seyed Rahmati.
Rahmati then smothered a one-on-one opportunity which fell to Geynrikh, who later had a goal ruled out for offside when he pounced on a rebound from Jasur Hasanov’s biting shot.
Three-time World Cup finalists Iran, marshalled by manager Carlos Queiroz, showed more endeavour in the second half and Javad Nekounam had their best chance with a run and awkward shot from distance soon after the break.
But Uzbekistan looked the most likely to break the deadlock until Khalatbari’s winner from nowhere right at the death.
Uzbekistan are seeking to make their World Cup finals debut at Brazil 2014, with the last round of Asian qualifying due to wrap up next year.