TEHRAN (AFP) - Midfield star Ali Karimi scored the only goal as Iran defeated the United Arab Emirates 1-0 on Wednesday to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Iran remain in fourth place in Asian qualifying Group B with 10 points from seven matches, one behind North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
South Korea, with 15 points, have already made sure of their place in the finals in South Africa next year.
The second automatic qualifying spot will be decided next Wednesday when Iran travel to South Korea while the Saudis welcome North Korea to Riyadh.
The team who finishes third will have to face the third-placed team in Group A, either Bahrain or Uzbekistan, with the eventual winner going on to face New Zealand for a spot in the 2010 finals.
In a tense, must-win game for Iran, the 100,000-seater Azadi Stadium was two-thirds empty with heavy rain making passing difficult.
Karimi struck the crucial goal on 52 minutes after drifting past two UAE defenders before unleashing a fierce drive.
Iran have now beaten UAE 10 times in 13 matches with three games drawn.
The Iranians are trying to reach a fourth World Cup having qualified for the 1978, 1998 and 2006 finals.
|A. Karimi||53' 78'|
|Coach: A. Ghotbi|
for M. Mahdavikia 46'
for V. Hashemian 58'
for M. Shojaei 80'
|Palermo appoint Gattuso|
|Martinez: Let´s build on last season|
|Fabregas: Real would be foolish to spend £100 million on Bale|
|Sunderland make Vydra loan bid|
|Baldini appointed as Tottenham technical director|
|FA Cup final given end-of-season billing|
|Coyle´s Wigan tenure begins at Barnsley|
|Celtic to start with Ross County test|
|Pique advises Thiago to stay at Barcelona|
|Llambias resigns but Pardew vows to stay on|
|Lampard targets third World Cup|
|Zorc: De Bruyne is interested in Dortmund move|
|FIFA World Cup Qualifying Wrap: United States stay in charge|
|Neill, Schwarzer in the shop window|
|Osieck vindicated by super-sub Kennedy|
|Puyol set for further surgery|
|Ribery, Benzema trial adjourned|
|Bielsa, Santos talks fall through|
|Vilanova rues easy title run-in|
|Del Bosque defends Casillas´ inclusion|
|Lens leaves PSV for Dynamo Kiev|
|FIFA Confederations Cup Preview: Spain v Tahiti|
|FIFA World Cup Qualifying Wrap: Australia, Iran, South Korea qualify|
|Carroll passes West Ham medical|
|Maher agent denies Ajax deal|
|Newcastle confirm Kinnear appointment|
|Taylor ´really happy´ with Kinnear return|
|Australia 1-0 Iraq: Kennedy books Brazil place|
|Clarke happy with Reid commitment|
|Bittencourt signs for Hannover|
|Van Dijk keen on Celtic move|
|De Gea sets the bar high|
|Confederations Cup Preview: Nigeria v Uruguay|
|Bacuna keen to get going at Villa|
|Hamburg a possibility for Santa Cruz|
|Rebelo: Protests will not harm Confederations Cup|
|Kinnear: We need another striker|
|Brazil-Mexico Preview: Selecao gunning for semi-final berth|
|Valcke: Brazil better for football tournaments|
|Tahiti trump Nigeria in celebration stakes|
|FIFA Confederations Cup Preview: Italy v Japan|
|FIFA Confederations Cup: Nigeria 6 Tahiti 1|
|Borini´s Napoli move unlikely|
|Remon: Zidane not ready for Real job|
|Elyounoussi says yes to Hoffenheim|
|Mignolet agent anticipating bids|
|Schalke signs Clemens|
|Italy-Japan Preview: Azzurri aiming to move closer to last four with victory|
|Sidwell looking for settled squad at Fulham|
|Hearts set to enter administration|
|Martinez hoping to bring ´characters´ to Everton|
|Scholes sad to see Robinson leave Stoke|
|Bayern, Barca in hunt for Koscielny|
|Toulouse deny Lyon approach for Tabanou|
|Vitoria pleased with ´dream´ Benfica move|
|Poyet refuses to attend hearing|
|UEFA Under 21 Championship Final Preview: Italy v Spain|
|Van Dijk attracting foreign interest|
|FIFA Confederations Cup Preview: Brazil v Mexico|
|Brentford confirm signing of Bidwell from Everton|
|Lambert says Lowton can still improve|
|Owen not ready to become a manager|
|Rangel praises Michu impact|
|Gundogan pledges future to Dortmund|
|Tevez refuses to be drawn on speculation|
|Mourinho: Chelsea need stability|
|Reid remains at West Brom after agreeing new deal|
|Tahiti 1-6 Nigeria: Oduamadi hits hat-trick as Super Eagles smash South Pacific islanders|
|Dortmund confirm Lewandowski stay|
|Hull sign Figueroa|
|Colombia Primera Division Wrap: Santa Fe held as Pasto, Millonarios win|
|Liverpool appoint new chief financial officer|
|Isco reveals offers from Real and City|
|Bradford to start Capital One Cup campaign at Huddersfield|
|Kinnear: Cabaye will stay at Newcastle|
|Peru Primera Division Wrap: Cesar Vallejo up to fourth|
|Paraguay Division Profesional Wrap: Nacional Asuncion beaten after securing title|
|Argentina Primera Division Wrap: Blanco brace fires Lanus|
|Ecuador Primera A Wrap: Independiente held despite Guerrero stunner|
|Del Bosque satisfied with Spain´s Cup opener|
|FIFA Confederations Cup: Spain 2 Uruguay 1|
|Prandelli undeterred by plucky Mexico|
|FIFA World Cup Qualifying Wrap: Ethopia, Egypt top groups|