A last gasp header from Reza Ghoochannejhad gave Iran a 1-0 win over United Arab Emirates in the final fixture of Group C and ensured their progression to the knockout phase as group winners.
Iran will face the runners-up of Group D in the quarter-finals on Friday (January 23) in Canberra while UAE play the Group D winners in Sydney - widely expected to be defending champions Japan.
The game, on the coolest evening of the Asian Cup to date, was marked by Iran's defensive resolve which saw the UAE fail to notch a single shot on target across the 90 minutes.
Neither team could find that definitive piece of quality in the final third of the field to really trouble the opposition goal with attack after attack thwarted by solid defending by both parties.
Carlos Queiroz tried to inject some steam into the Iranian attack by bringing Ghoochannejhad and Ashkan Dejagah off the bench, but UAE also held firm at the back to frustrate their opponents.
But that was to change in stoppage time when midfielder Andranik Teymourian unintentionally swiped a clearance into his own penalty box, where it landed right into the path of Ghoochannejhad who nodded in from close range.
The second game of the night was a battle for pride more than anything as neither Bahrain nor Qatar could advance to the quarter-finals following losses to Iran and UAE in their opening two fixtures.
Bahrain ensured they would not end their Asian Cup campaign winless, nevertheless, as they recorded a 2-1 win at Stadium Australia.
A long-range strike from Sayed Ahmed Jaafar eight minutes from time was the difference between the two teams as the Bahraini's celebrated their first points of the competition.
Sayed Dhiya Shubbar gave Bahrain the lead in the 35th minute, much against the run of play.
After large periods of Qatari dominance, Faouzi Aaish slalomed past two of the Gulf nation champion's defenders before cutting the ball back to Shubbar, who steadied himself and slid a left foot shot over the line.
The Qataris levelled things up midway through the second half, however, when Al Haydos, their star performer on the evening, struck a low free kick under the Bahraini wall, beating the keeper to his right.
Qatar continued to dictate play for the rest of the half but miss after miss was soon to cost them dearly.
Just eight minutes from time Jaafar picked the ball up on the edge of the penalty area before clipping his shot over the head of the stranded Qasem Burhan, who had taken a step off his line.
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