Iran scored an injury time equaliser to claim a share of the spoils in a thrilling 1-1 draw with Bahrain in Asian zone qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on Friday.
Bahrain had given their hopes of moving closer to a first participation in the World Cup a boost when Mahmood Mirza Al Ajami gave the hosts a 46th minute lead against the run of play.
However Mojtaba Jabari ended the hosts' yearning for a precious three points when he latched on to a ball which had deflected off the Bahrain crossbar to beat goalkeeper Sayed Jaffer in the third minute of injury time.
The result left Iran, who had won the first-leg 6-0 in Tehran exactly a month ago, leading Group E with eight points from four matches while Bahrain stay third on five points.
It was another heartbreaking experience for Bahrain who have twice come agonizingly close to realizing their dreams of playing in the soccer showpiece event, although Iran deserved the point for their patience and perseverance, particularly in the second half when they repeatedly came close to scoring.
The match started on a tense note and under tight security due to recent unrest in the region and a growing rift between the two countries -- a situation which was intensified by a masked man waving a Bahraini flag who invaded the pitch late in the first half.