An all-Asian battle at the FIFA Futsal World Cup saw Iran survive a late scare to edge past Uzbekistan 9-8 for a place at the quarterfinals in Lithuania.
Iranian skipper Ali-Asghar Hassanzadeh opened the scoring in the first minute before Mehdi Javid’s superb volley on a Farhad Fakhim’s corner-kick found the top corner in the fifth minute.
Khusniddin Nishonov pulled one back for Uzbekistan in the ninth minute but Seyyed Ahamd Abbasi restored Iran’s two-goal cushion seven minutes later.
Dilshod Rakhmatov and Ikhtiyor Ropiev scored twice in the space of one minute to level the tie at 3-3, but Farhad Tavakkoli bagged a last-gasp strike as the first half finished with a 4-3 lead for Iran.
Abbasi and Javid scored for Iran’s 6-3 lead with five minutes into the second period, before Anaskhon Rakhmatov netted Uzbeks’ fourth.
Hassanzadeh and Moslem Olad-Qobad took Iran’s lead to 8-4 before Ilhomjon Hamroev and Nishonov pulled a couple of goals back for Uzbekistan with seven minutes left on the clock.
Abbasi scored his third of the night with three minutes remaining as Iran seemed to be on its way to the quarterfinals.
However, Anaskhon Rakhmatov got on the score sheet again and Hamroev scored seconds later to make it a nail-biting closing stage at the Vilnius Arena in the Lithuanian capital.
The 12-time Asian champion still managed to hold on to the one-goal lead and will now face Kazakhstan in the last-eight round on Monday.