Carlos Queiroz claimed Iran deserved to beat Portugal and progress to the last 16 after the dramatic 1-1 draw which brought their World Cup to an end.
A controversial late penalty, given to Iran after the video assistant referee intervened to harshly adjudge Cedric Soares had handled in the area, saw Portugal slip from top spot to second in Group B.
But moments later the European champions would have been heading home, with minnows Iran going through, had Mehdi Taremi’s shot not hit the side-netting.
Iran’s Portuguese coach Queiroz said at his post-match press conference: “It was a football game that we honoured and we brought prestige to the World Cup.
“It was a very competitive World Cup game, minute-by-minute, duel-by-duel, playing against one of the best teams in the world.
“I think Iran, without any doubt, with the discipline, with the attitude, with the way we controlled the game, if there was some justice in football – which doesn’t exist – only one winner would have come out in this game. And that winner is Iran.”
VAR was once again in the spotlight with Cristiano Ronaldo awarded a penalty after referee Enrique Caceres had a second look at Morteza Pouraliganji’s clumsy challenge.
Ronaldo saw his spot-kick saved by Ali Beiranvand and was later the subject of a VAR red card review after he was caught apparently taking swing at Pouraliganji off the ball – he was eventually shown yellow.
But the biggest controversy was the handball call, which gave Karim Ansarifard the chance to equalise from the spot.
That goal cancelled out a superb strike from Ricardo Quaresma on the stroke of half-time, which ultimately saw Portugal through to a second-round meeting with Uruguay while group winners Spain face Russia.
Coach Fernando Santos said: “The important thing is to think about the (last-16) match, to get to know your adversaries and then to get well prepared mentally and physically, regardless of it being Uruguay or the hosts.
“These are different circumstance of course, the hosts have huge support and they’ve had a very good tournament, while Uruguay has high quality and top-notch players and they’re all excellent – but Portugal too.
“We have our weapons and we’re going to try to win.”