BRISBANE - Iran snatched a dramatic late winner against the United Arab Emirates at the Asian Cup on Monday -- but were careful not to celebrate by taking "selfies" with female fans. Substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad, nicknamed "Gucci" by his club mates at Charlton Athletic, popped up to score in injury time and give Iran a 1-0 victory and secure top spot in Group C, meaning they are likely to avoid holders Japan in the quarter-finals.

"UAE perhaps deserved to win," Iran coach Carlos Queiroz told reporters. "I think they are the best team in West Asia but our substitutes had experience and did the job when they came on to win it for us." UAE coach Mahdi Ali risked a fine by questioning Japanese referee Ryuji Sato's impartiality, raging that Iran's goal had been offside and saying tournament organisers should never have given the game to an official from Japan, with one of the two teams set to face the Blue Samurai in the quarter-finals.

The Asian Football Confederation, who have already fined Queiroz and Japan playmaker Keisuke Honda, are certain to take a dim view of Ali's tirade after he fumed: "I'm surprised at how it was given to a Japanese referee and maybe we play against Japan in the next round." Iran's players have incurred the wrath of the country's authorities after posing for photographs with female fans who have turned out in droves to watch their games in Australia.

They have been formally warned to stop by the Iranian Football Federation's moral committee, which claimed players risked being used as a "political tool" if snapped with women. Iran, who lifted the Asian Cup three times in a row between 1968 and 1976 but have failed to win it since, underlined their title credentials with a third straight victory. UAE finished second in the group and are expected to face Japan next, barring a shock defeat against Jordan in Melbourne on Tuesday, while Iran will face either Iraq or Jordan.

Bahrain completed Qatar's humiliation with a 2-1 win in the group's dead rubber, leaving the 2022 World Cup hosts rock bottom without a point from three matches, Sayed Ahmed the match-winner in Sydney with a sublime late chip. However, the day belonged to Iran after their match in Brisbane appeared to be headed for the tournament's first stalemate following a record 20 games without a draw.

But in a reminder that politics is never far away from the sporting arena in Tehran, Ali Akbar Mohamedzade, head of the FA's moral committee, issued a stern warning after photos of players with adoring female fans circulated on social media. "National team players should be (careful) that ... those who take pictures with them don't use these photos against the players," Iran's Shahrvand newspaper quoted him as saying.

"According to this, they should not take photos. If the players don't respect this, we will be obliged to take action." Women are banned from men's sports events in Iran, but Team Melli have been feted like rock stars in Australia, with fans tweeting pictures of themselves with the players.

 Meanwhile, Japan coach Javier Aguirre did not wear the expression of a man awaiting a court date over match-fixing charges, the Mexican all smiles as he expressed confidence his side would finish Group D with a bang against Jordan despite only needing a point to finish top.

"There will be no question of us playing for a draw," he said. "We won't have the calculator out. We're here to win." Japan captain Makoto Hasebe also courted controversy, a day after Honda was fined $5,000 for criticising the standard of refereeing, when he stood by the team's blond cult hero. "The Japan players all feel the same as Keisuke," said Hasebe, who could now escape potential censure thanks to Ali's outburst. "Japan have a lot of players at European clubs and honestly speaking, the standard of refereeing is confusing."