TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ In a politically charged game before a crowd of 100,000, Iran beat Iraq 2-1 Friday to move to the top of its World Cup qualifying group.

The victory boosted Iran's chances of advancing to next year's World Cup and sent thousands of fans into the streets waving flags and singing patriotic songs.

When the game ended, several Iranian fans threw stones and empty plastic bottles at Iraqi players, who responded by throwing back the objects. Iraqi players received a police escort.

Traffic in downtown Tehran stopped after the game, with drivers blowing horns and turning on headlights.

The game was played a week after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein accused Iran of being the source of Arab problems for centuries. The two neighbors fought an eight-year war that ended in 1988 with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire.

In Tehran's Sattar Khan district, about 30 anti-riot police beat up several hundred fans who were celebrating. The fans pelted police with stones. Police had warned they would not allow ``disorder'' after the game.

Ali Karimi of Iran had the winning goal in the 71st minute. Iran opened the scoring in the 27th minute at Azadi Stadium on a goal by Mahdi Mahdavikia. Iraq's Qahtan Drain tied it in the 52nd minute.

Iran (4-0-3) leads Asia's Group A, followed by Saudi Arabia (4-1-2), and Iraq (2-5-1). China already clinched Group B.

A dozen Iranian soldiers, veterans of the war with Iraq, were offered flowers just before the game in thanks for their sacrifices.