Hong Kong coach livid when ref gives penalty after falling for dive They may be champions. But Iran had to resort to dirty tricks to stave off a brave challenge from Hong Kong and win their group encounter 2-1 at the Al-Sadd Stadium. Hong Kong soccer coach Kenny Lai Sun-cheung openly accused Iranian striker Arash Borhani of diving to earn his side a controversial penalty on the hour, and one which gave the defending Asian Games champions a face-saving victory. 'That penalty should not have been given. The player cheated, he dived and unfortunately for us, the referee gave a penalty. It was a pity,' said Lai. Kuwaiti referee Jatli Al Enezi was fooled by Borhani into giving Iran a penalty early in the second half when surging into the penalty area, he made contact with Sun Hei defender Tse Man-wing, and promptly took a dive. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Borhani picking himself up, converted to give Iran the lead. The goal was greeted with relief, for until then, Hong Kong had harboured hopes of pulling off a shock draw. Indeed, in the first half, it was Hong Kong who held the upper hand until the 39th minute. A superb first-time volley by Happy Valley midfielder Sham Kwok-keung, who hammered home a long ball from Li Hang-wui in the eighth minute, silenced the horns and drums of a small group of Iranian fans in the stands. Rangers midfielder Yip Chi-ho came close to adding a second a minute later as the Iranian defence, still stunned by conceding a goal, was slow to react, giving Yip time to take a shot which although beating Iranian keeper Hassan Roudbarian, was just wide. But the unexpected lead put fire into the souls of the Hong Kong players on a cold and chilly night. They defended like terriers, hounding the Iranians all over the field. With captain and goalkeeper Fan Chun-yip marshalling his defence superbly, Hong Kong held Iran at bay for the next half hour. But their physically bigger opponents turned on the style and the pressure ultimately told when Mazyar Eshghdoost Zare was given too much time to unleash a withering 35-yard rising drive which caught Fan on the wrong foot. 'This was one of the bravest performances I have ever seen by Hong Kong and it bodes well for the future as this is mostly a young side,' said Lai. 'Iran are a very good side, but we managed to hold them scoreless for a long time. We deserved to draw the match.' A draw would have given Hong Kong a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals. Having already drawn 1-1 with India in their opening game, Hong Kong would only have needed to beat the Maldives, whom they meet on Thursday in their last group game, to virtually book their berth in the knockout stages. 'If we had drawn tonight, we would have stood a good chance of making the quarter-finals. But it is over for us now. Not beating India has cost us,' said Lai. In the other group D game, India needed a last-minute winner from Subhash Chakraborthy to earn a 2-1 win over the Maldives. India have four points but will need to beat Iran to make the last eight - a tough task. Players from Hong Kong and Iran had observed a one-minute silence before the game for Iraqi football federation official Hudaie Majhool whose body was discovered in Baghdad. He had been kidnapped and killed. Despite the tragedy, the Iraqi football team, playing with black armbands, defeated Oman 2-0. In other action, China and Japan moved closer towards the quarter-finals. China beat Malaysia 3-1 while Japan beat Syria 1-0 to stay on top of groups E and F respectively. Only the six group winners are assured of making the quarter-finals with the two remaining places going to the best runners-up. Hong Kong, meanwhile, will only be playing for pride when they meet the Maldives in their final game.