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.
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