DOHA (Agencies) - Iran qualified for the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup after a well-taken goal from Karim Ansari Fard gave them a 1-0 win over a dour North Korea side at the Qatar Sports Club on Saturday. Ansari Fard flicked home the winner after 63 minutes of a largely uninspired game, riddled with mistakes from both sides, who largely cancelled each other out in a tedious midfield war of attrition. Iran, who have now won both their matches and are seeking a first Asian Cup title since 1976, were the better team throughout but their midfield fulcrum of Javad Nekonam and Pejman Nouri rarely found the right pass. North Korea's defeat followed their uninspiring scoreless draw with the UAE and leaves them staring at elimination from the tournament. It was a close encounter with Iran having to work hard to unlock the famously tight North Korean backline with few chances in a cagey start. Both sides had free kicks from threatening positions in the opening 10 minutes but neither made them count. Bochum striker Jong Tae-Se had another chance on 16 minutes for Korea but his free kick from 30 metres was punched away by Iranian goalkeeper Mahdi Rahmati. Iran were struggling to break down North Korea's resolve but appeared to have opened the scoring in the 28th minute when Fard trapped a long ball in the box. He beat Korean defender Ri Jun-Il and slotted the ball past Korean goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk, but the linesman disallowed the goal and Fard instead got a yellow card for handball. The dangerous Japan-born Jong was a threat to Iran and charged their goal on the break soon after, trapping the ball in the box but his shot went meekly into Rahmati's hands. Iran stepped up their offensive with a series of counterattacks right after the interval. Reza Khalatbari did well to collect a ball on the left but Myong was well placed to stop his shot in the 47th minute. Jong, forming North Korea's frontline with captain and FC Rostov marksman Hong Yong-Jo, invaded the Iranian area again on 51 minutes but two defenders bundled him out of the way before he could unleash a shot. Khalatbari had another chance on the break near the hour mark but he found it hard to beat Myong. North Korea fought back hard but missed a great chance 12 minutes from time when substitute Ryang Yong-Gi picked up a pass from Li Yun-Nam just outside the box but fell down as he tried to dribble past two Iran defenders. Hong should have levelled the match in the dying seconds when he found himself with space in the penalty area and only the goalkeeper to beat, but the North Korean captain's shot grazed the top the bar and flew harmlessly over. The one occasion they did lead to the only goal when Nouri crossed perfectly from the right and the unmarked Ansari Fard scored. Iran tops the group with six points, followed by the United Arab Emirates and North Korea, who both have one point. UAE were playing champions Iraq, who lost to Iran in their opening match, later. Iran coach Afshin Ghoutbi, whose squad have been hit by a flu bug this week, was forced to make four changes from the side that beat Iraq, but thought his team had taken the lead after 28 minutes. Ansari Fard held off a challenge from Korean defender Ri Jun-il, and fired in a well-taken shot, but the linesman flagged for handball. Referee Nawaf Shukralla disallowed the goal then booked Ansari Fard for protesting although TV replays failed to show any infringement. North Korea, who drew 0-0 with United Arab Emirates in their opening match, were, as expected, largely content to defend in numbers but they had two good scoring chances. The first came after 17 minutes when striker Jong Tae-se smacked a powerful 25-metre free-kick straight at goalkeeper Mahdi Rahmati who could only parry the shot although the follow -up effort was smacked high over the bar. The second came in stoppage time at the end of the second half when Hong Yong-jo's fierce drive hit the top of the bar. However, most of the entertainment coming from North Korea's camp was from about 200 fans, almost all of whom were identically dressed in white shirts and ties. But even their choreographed moves and chants dried up as the match failed to produce any real entertainment apart from the goal.